Grant Gilchrist celebrates his 200th Edinburgh appearance and sets his sights on silverware

He becomes the fourth player from the club to reach that landmark

Grant Gilchrist returns to Edinburgh's starting XV for tomorrow night's Challenge Cup clash against Bayonne. Image: © Craig Watson -
Grant Gilchrist is set to make his 200th Edinburgh appearance against the Sharks Image: © Craig Watson -

YOU wait ages for an Edinburgh double centurion then two come along at once.

Hot on the heels of WP Nel making his 200th appearance for the club against the Stormers in South Africa last month, Grant Gilchrist will – assuming selected – join him on that milestone in the same country on Saturday when Edinburgh take on the Sharks in Durban in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

In doing so, the Scotland second-rower will become just the fourth from the club to hit that landmark after Allan Jacobsen, Chris Paterson and now Nel.

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It will be, unsurprisingly, a proud day for Gilchrist who made his debut back in 2011 and has been a reliable presence for club and country ever since.

He said: “I desperately wanted to play for the club. I supported them as a youngster and used to come through and watch the games at Meadowbank.

“To play for the club once was a dream. To reach 100 games was so special but to reach 200 and be in the same conversation as those guys I grew up idolising is really special.

“I come into this place every day with a smile on my face because I love representing this club, I love preparing for games and I love taking the field and giving my all for the fans and for everybody through the years who has helped me.

“It means a lot and everything is focused on what would be a really special way to mark it – getting to a European semi-final.”

The ongoing pursuit of silverware is one of the things that still gets Gilchrist out of bed in the morning.

Success on either the European or domestic front would mean the world to the 33-year-old and would prove transformational, he believes, for the club.

He added: “I’ve never taken that final step. I’ve played in a couple of semi-finals and a few quarter-finals. There is a bit of regret from those games.

“I’d love to finish having had a year where we put it all together. On our day if we get everything right, we can beat anyone.  That’s got to be our attitude going forward in this competition and in the URC.

“Compared to when I first came in, the growth we’ve had over the last six or seven years…we’ve got a home now, we’ve got consistency.

“We’ve got a solid platform every year. It is about ‘can we take that next step?’ That next step is winning something.

“What that would do to the club…it would change everything if we won a trophy here. It would be enormous.

“It would mean we have a winning culture, a winning organisation. The fans would keep growing and growing. This place would keep growing. That is what we want to do over the next few years.”

Victory over the Sharks would put them within touching distance of a European trophy but Edinburgh will need to perform better than they did in the 23-13 defeat to the same opposition a fortnight ago.

Gilchrist added: “We have to take the learnings from a couple of weeks ago and keep all the good stuff: the fight we showed and the way we repelled them.

“There was lots to like in that performance, we just weren’t accurate enough. When we had the ball, we just weren’t able to put our game on them.

“This weekend we can’t take that hard work for granted – we need to do that again. We are going to have to go to dark places and scrap for absolutely everything. But then when we have the ball and are exiting and kicking, we have to be more accurate. When we do that, I believe we can win the game.”

While Nel is set to bow out in the summer, Gilchrist hopes to go on for a while yet and didn’t rule out catching Jacobsen’s record of 273 club appearances.

“Never say never, ask Sean! I’m going to keep trucking for another couple of years and if I feel I’m good enough I’ll be here because I absolutely love playing for this club and I’ve no plans to walk away.

“We’ve mentioned Chunk but to be in the same club as Mossy and WP….I think I’ve played in almost every one of WP’s games and he’ll have played in pretty much every one of mine, so it’s really special to have played that many times with such a legend of the club.

“The other two I got to play with in my first year or two. I grew up idolising these guys and all of a sudden I was in the same team as them.

“The fact I’m mates with them doesn’t seem real to me because they were legends and always will be in my eyes. It doesn’t seem real I’m in the same conversation as that. It’s pretty cool.”

About Graeme Macpherson 42 Articles
Graeme Macpherson is a freelance sports writer who covers rugby for a number of outlets.

1 Comment

  1. A committed loyal player who benefitted from the NZ secondment years ago. Cotter recognized his talent. Good luck to him.


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