Challenge Cup: Clermont v Edinburgh: Sean Everitt mixes it up for Euro opener

Several senior players rested but Duhan van der Merwe and Hamish Watson return to starting XV

Mark Bennett
Mark Bennett will make his 100th appearance for Edinburgh in Friday's URC game at home to Ospreys. Image:© Craig Watson -

THE return to the starting XV of 2017 British & Irish Lions stars Duhan van der Merwe and Hamish Watson for tomorrow [Friday] night’s European Challenge Cup opener away to Clermont will add some valuable experience and punching power to an Edinburgh side which is missing a quintet of key players in the shape of rested Scotland stars Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Grant Gilchrist and Ben Healy.

The decision to stand Healy down after playing every minute of every game during the opening seven rounds of the 2023-24 URC campaign hands 22-year-old stand-off Cammy Scott his first taste of European action and his second start of the season (after wearing the No 15 jersey against the Dragons in round one).

Van der Merwe missed last weekend’s match against Ulster with concussion and his recall means Wes Goosen drops to the bench, while Watson came off the bench in Belfast on his return from a facial injury.

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Meanwhile, a revamped midfield pairing sees experienced duo Chris Dean and Mark Bennett (who spent the 2011-12 season at Clermont as an academy player) take over from James Lang and Matt Currie at Nos 12 and 13 resepctively.

Up front, Javan Sebastian and Robin Hislop both get the nod in the front-row after coming off the bench to help seal the win in Belfast last weekend.

“We’ve taken a lot of confidence from Saturday’s win in Belfast where I thought we competed excellently and showed resilience in all facets of the game. It’s now about maintaining that momentum as we start our European campaign in France,” said senior coach Sean Everitt.

“We’ve made six changes to the starting line-up and it’s exciting to see guys get their opportunity in a big European match, under the lights in one of French rugby’s great arenas.

“Cammy [Scott] is a young stand-off who has grown up supporting the club. Wearing the number 10 jersey for Edinburgh will mean a huge amount to him. We’ve name two guys outside him with a lot of experience in Chris Dean and Mark Bennett, while we’re excited to bring back Duhan [van der Merwe] who has the ability to be a match-winner on any given night.”

“Clermont are a quality outfit with a lot of size and power, as you’d expect from all French Top 14 sides. We know the challenge we face but it’s one we’re excited to face head on.”


Edinburgh Rugby (versus Clermont at Stade Marcel-Michelin on Friday at 8pm): T Swiel; H Paterson,  M Bennett, C Dean, D van der Merwe; C Scott, B Vellacott©; R Hislop, E Ashman, J Sebastian, M Sykes, J Hodgson, L Crosbie, H Watson, V Mata. Substitutes: A McBurney, B Venter, A Williams, G Young, C Boyle, C Shiel, M Currie, W Goosen.

Clermont: A Newsome; B Delguy, J Heriteau, G Moala, T Roziere; A Belleau, S Bezy; E Falgoux, F Fainga’a, C Ojovan, R Simmons, T Lavanini, L Dessaigne, P Yato, P Gus Sowakula. Substitutes: Y Beheregaray, D Bibi Biziwu, H Kiteau, F Lee, K Tixeront, B Jauneau, J Plisson, P Fouyssac.


Unavailable: Emiliano Boffelli (toe), Luan de Bruin (back), Dave Cherry (ankle), Darcy Graham (hip), Paddy Harrison (concussion), Jake Henry (knee), Cam Neild (knee), Ali Price (leg), Sam Skinner (knee), Scott Steele (hip), Nathan Sweeney (hamstring).

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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. No sign of D’Arcy Rae yet and no mention of him being injured/unavailable.
    Are they doing major body surgery to change his body shape or something?
    Surely he is ahead of Angus Williams in ability?

    • Wondering that as well Moody as he had a couple of good seasons in a struggling Bath side so he is certainly good enough. IMHO what I have seen of him he should be ahead of Sebastian and Williams but he joined from Montpellier late on so who knows. Could be coach loyalty which is not a bad thing, getting up to speed with the playbook, the resurgence of Nel etc but who knows. However, it seems strange as we all know that signings have to be run by and approved by Murrayfield first of all.

  2. Really disappointed not to see Goosen in the starting line-up, for he played out of his skin against Ulster. Cammy Scott really has been thrown in at the deep end and it will be interesting to see how he copes. Harry Paterson impressed last time out and he deserves his place. Not the biggest, but then neither was Chris Paterson either. Go get ’em lad! The absence of the regular first-choice props, Jamie Ritchie, Big Grant and Healy suggests Edinburgh are targeting the URC this year, with a return to the Heineken next season very much in mind. A rotations go, fair enough. I can see the logic.

    • Goosen has played pretty much every (if not all) games so far this season, so is probably due a break anyway.

      Really good to see Paterson and Scott given a go against a European heavyweight (Clermont’s recent performances and likely non-prioritisation of the Challenge Cup notwithstanding).

    • Totally agree Sonsie and on current form and general application he should be way ahead of DVM in the pecking order. Chatted to a rugby friend who attended a Edinburgh home game with a non rugby friend who as expected asked him loads of questions all game including who was the player that kept running across the pitch lol.

  3. Does this mean we are focused on the URC not the Challenge Cup? Resting Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Grant Gilchrist and Ben Healy would seem to say so – yes we have to rotate players and look after them but….
    Be interesting to see how Clermont view the Cup.

    • Certainly looks like it and it could be a tough day in the office but the current Clermont are not the Clermont of old as they finished 10th last season and are currently 8th. If the forwards can get parity then you never know.

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