Grant Gilchrist accepts that Edinburgh’s season has been a “failure”

But second-row insists that capital team have made progress over the last 12 months

Grant Gilchrist accepted the Edinburgh's season has been a failure after Saturday's capitulation to Benetton confined the capital side to finishing 10th in the URC. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Grant Gilchrist accepted the Edinburgh's season has been a failure after Saturday's capitulation to Benetton confined the capital side to finishing 10th in the URC. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

EDINBURGH captain Grant Gilchrist was left “devastated” that his side’s capitulation against Benetton called time early on the careers of legends WP Nel and Bill Mata in the capital.

Nel and Mata will depart this summer after a combined 20 seasons and 343 appearances for the club, with the veteran prop retiring and the Fijian No 8 heading to Bristol Bears.

Both were named in the starting line-up as Edinburgh travelled to Italy in search of a victory that would have ensured a place in the URC playoffs and Champions Cup qualification.


That was the month that was: May 2024

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Instead, they were on the receiving end of a 31-6 thrashing that saw Edinburgh tumble out of the play-off places altogether and prematurely ended the duo’s capital careers.

“It’s hard speaking about it. I’m devastated that this is their last experience in an Edinburgh jersey, they deserved much better than today,” Gilchrist said.

“All I can say is thanks for what they’ve given the club, they are both absolute legends who will be spoken about forever when someone speaks about Edinburgh Rugby.

“It’s really tough that this is their last game. They deserve so much better than this.”

Ahead of the trip to Italy, Edinburgh head coach Sean Everitt described the game as a “cup final.”

Gilchrist was uncompromising before the game, saying the result would signify “success or failure” for the entire season.

He didn’t back down in his post-match assessment after other results saw Edinburgh slide down the standings to finish in 10th place.

“We set a goal to be in the top eight at the start of the season and we’re not there – we have to take that on the chin as a failure,” Gilchrist said.

“There have definitely been good foundations put in place. We’ve shown over the course of this year that we’re more than capable of being a top eight team, but we weren’t able to do it consistently.

“I think it’s a step forward but we said we were going to make the top eight and we didn’t achieve that, so in my eyes it’s a failure and we have to address it.”

 

 

Edinburgh finished their first season under Everitt with 11 wins, five more than they achieved a year earlier, while finishing two places higher than in 2022-23.

However, their struggle to accumulate bonus points – from a losing margin of seven points or fewer or by scoring four tries or more – cost them in the standings and underlined the season-long struggle to get the attack to click.

Gilchrist believes he saw enough in the former Sharks boss’s debut campaign to be optimistic about what lies ahead.

“You can see over the course of the season the improvements we’ve made, the number of games we’ve won,” said the Scotland lock.

“We’ve actually been frustrated that we could’ve been a lot better in a lot of those games.

“I think there is enough in there to show that if this is our baseline and we add on a pre-season where we work really hard at our game, we get a few guys fit and ready to go, we can take that step next season. But we need to be better.”

One area the 33-year-old believes Edinburgh must improve is their accuracy, something that was abundantly clear at the Stadio Monigo.

Individual errors plagued Edinburgh’s performance as they struggled to threaten in attack and had to soak up Benetton pressure before wilting in the final quarter by conceding three tries to surrender the contest.

“We made too many errors,” he said. “We gave them turnovers. We knew they had dangerous players in the backline and that we couldn’t give them transitions and that’s what we gave them. It was inaccuracy.

“I thought the effort was there, you could see how hard we were fighting through that first 50-60 minutes. I lose count of the number of entries in our 22 where we defended brilliantly, we scrapped for everything.

“But if you keep making errors and you keep letting these teams have shots at you, eventually the ball will bounce for them, and it bounced for them three or four times in that back 20. Just too inaccurate, that’s where we need to be better.”

 

 

Many fans in the Stadio Monigo had half an eye trained on their phones to keep track of the result in South Africa, where a comfortable defeat for the Lions would have opened up the possibility of both Edinburgh and Benetton qualifying in the top eight.

But the Lions, whose game kicked off 15 minutes before the match in Treviso, ultimately earned a losing bonus point that ended any hopes of a silver lining in defeat for Edinburgh.

Gilchrist had no interest in events in South Africa regardless, insisting his team only had one objective on their mind in Italy.

“We came here to win and we knew if we lost it would likely be the end of our season. That was how we looked at it,” Gilchrist said.

“There were permutations but we felt it was unlikely that the Lions wouldn’t score four tries in South Africa anyway.

“It was on us. We were good enough to come here and win but we didn’t perform well enough.”


That was the month that was: May 2024

12 Comments

  1. I’ve said this before but Scotland, Edinburgh, and to a lesser degree Glasgow, all need a Telfer or a Baxter who’s going to go apes**t after performances like that at Bennetton. Someone who’s not afraid to slam the dressing room door shut, call out the senior players, or give the 2nd xv guys a run just to let them have a chance. All the hierarchy in Scotland too complacent and accepting of the dismal future the country has by not bringing on our school boys and girls properly with a pathway set out for them . Italy are now a serious threat to Scotland in all departments and heaven help us if Cockers gets Georgia going well. He’d love to put one over any of the Scottish teams

  2. It does make you laugh when basically a full International team most weeks target is to try and keep in the top 8 not strive for top 4 or God forbid even win be top at the end of the season. Most seasons are failures with Edinburgh. The players are mentally week are happy in their protected environment swan about like they are the best players in the world would not know a genuine hard days work if it hit them in the face and then as ever come up with the same old BS of we will take the learning from this season we have put down good foundations same old rubbish. I would doubt there is one honest player out of all them. Everyone had a go at Cockerill when he said the system was not fit for purpose how far of the mark was he. Stop blaming the coaches the supporters should start blaming the players who are playing the game and getting paid very well these days for very little ambition any player who is happy with 8th should be sold immediately. Most of the current squad have forgotten what gaining a few hard yards takes mental toughness physical hardness desire to win will any of them leave the strip in a better place than when they arrived I very much doubt it.

  3. It does make you laugh when basically a full International team most weeks target is to try and keep in the top 8 not strive for top 4 or God forbid even win be top at the end of the season. Most seasons are failures with Edinburgh. The players are mentally week are happy in their protected environment swan about like they are the best players in the world would not know a genuine hard days work if it hit them in the face and then as ever come up with the same old BS of we will take the learning from this season we have put down good foundations same old rubbish. I would doubt there is one honest player out of all them. Everyone had a go at Cockerill when he said the system was not fit for purpose how far of the mark was he. Stop blaming the coaches the supporters should start blaming the players who are playing the game and getting paid very well these days for very little ambition any player who is happy with 8th should be sold immediately. Most of the current squad have forgotten what gaining a few hard yards takes mental toughness physical hardness desire to win will any of them leave the strip in a better place than when they arrived I very much doubt it.

  4. I haven’t been to Hive but watching on premier it seems to me that there is a lot of bickering in the team. Looks of disdain when passing aren’t accurate, arguing when set moves don’t go to plan etc.
    I felt that Ben Healy’s performance in the first couple of matches of the season were excellent but then he seemed to lose confidence as the season progressed.
    Do some of Edinburgh’s internationals/lions feel they are too good for the team (or via a different lens the rest of the team isn’t good enough for them)?
    Of course there would be much more harmony if the team was winning but maybe team dynamics just haven’t clicked.
    Hope it is solved for next season as would love to see Edinburgh fulfil their potential.

  5. This may sound harsh – but here goes..

    The team is underperforming… it’s the coaches jobs to get the best from a team….etc…. Wait a minute, as much as I like Mike Blair I said the same thing then!

    So the players are a big part of the problem. Edinburgh don’t seem to reward an individuals success in being picked ahead of senior players….. that needs to change otherwise you just build a bigger problem for the future.

    Time for the young uns to get some serious game time, and a clear out would help in that regard. Too much respect shown to loyal servants rather than the greater good of the club?

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    • There is no place or sentiment or loyalty in pro sports, underperforming players should be dropped or moved on. Instead we see the SRU rewarding them with new contracts. Edinburgh can’t keep changing coaches there needs to be some continuity, statistically one of the best setpieces in the league. Next season has to be about adding some attacking shape. New head coach wll still have assistant coaches put in place by the SRU and same underperforming players to pick.

    • Agree, let’s give the young guns consistent game time.
      I’m afraid the old guard need to move aside, excuses have worn thin, coaches you need need to step up and step out your kicking/conservative comfort zone.
      Their might be initial pain but hang in their with the youngsters combined with a smattering of old pro’s and it will get better 👍🙂

      • I agree with the principal George – sounds good but who are the young guns across variety of positions. Im not supporting all our current senior players because many have vastly underperformed but Im not clear who we have waiting in the wings particularly in the forwards other than Muncaster and Boyle who have been around a few years now.

        • True, but they ain’t going to get any better by not playing…. Look at how the Welsh regions have dealt with the exodus and how performances have recovered as the season has progressed – you don’t know what you really have till you have to find out the hard way?

  6. A great servant to Edinburgh and Scotland, but when you look at the old-head equivalents at more successful teams (e.g. Sexton, O’Mahony, Owen Farrell etc) you see guys who demand a lot from those around them, drive standards and command total respect. Does Gilchrist? I hold him in high regard, but the burning, frantic passion doesn’t seem there!

    There is quite clearly a lack of drive and poor mentality permeating the whole club. Add to this a clear lack of tactical direction and it’s no wonder the team finishes so low down. I’ve been a season ticket holder for over a decade, but am seriously contemplating not going back.

  7. A great servant to Edinburgh and Scotland, but when you look at the old-head equivalents at more successful teams (e.g. Sexton, O’Mahony, Owen Farrell etc) you see guys who demand a lot from those around them, drive standards and command total respect. Does Gilchrist? I hold him in high regard, but the burning, frantic passion doesn’t seem there!

    There is quite clearly a lack of drive and poor mentality permeating the whole club. Add to this a clear lack of tactical direction and it’s no wonder the team finishes so low down the table every year. I’ve been a season ticket holder for over a decade, but am seriously contemplating not going back.

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