Henry Pyrgos demands greater consistency from Edinburgh

Scrum-half says increased maturity in squad needs to be reflected in results

Henry Pyrgos thinks Edinburgh can and must hit top form more consistently this season. Image: ©INPHO/Craig Watson.

EDINBURGH captain Henry Pyrgos agrees with his team-mates that last week’s win over Scarlets was a “statement victory”, but has insisted that, rather than dwelling too much on a single positive result, they have to start ensuring they make such statements week after week.

To extend the analogy, it’s the difference between making a single, isolated quip and delivering a coherent speech. Or, in rugby terms, between producing the odd impressive display and embarking on a long consistent run. 

Edinburgh were able to do the former last season, but in the end their form was patchy when it mattered most, and as a result they failed to get into the play-offs. Some promising early-season results have suggested that this time round they can be in the shake-up for a top-three place in PRO14 Conference B, but Pyrgos, who is set to lead the team again in Saturday’s match at Benetton, knows that, for that promise to become a reality, Edinburgh must improve their consistency.

Glasgow Warriors v Southern Kings: Rennie calls up six World Cup players

Opinion: Warriors supporters should shed few tears over loss of Rennie

SRU announces FOSROC Academy ‘supported’ player intake for 2019-20

That was the month that was: October 2019

“I think over the last few years there’s things we’ve done very well, but where we’ve finished, there’s a lot of improvement needed in our game if we’re to get to the next level,” the scrum-half said earlier this week.

 “We’re definitely improving and we’ve had some really good results, but it’s still early days and there are a lot of challenges to come. But Scarlets are a quality team and they were 3-0, so it was a good statement against them,” he continued, referring to the fact the Welsh team had won their first three league games before being soundly beaten at Murrayfield last Saturday. 

“But it only really matters if you turn up this weekend and put in another quality performance. It’s a really competitive league at the moment, and as we found out last year it’s hard to play Treviso away, so we need to back it up this week.”

Besides the actual results, one encouraging factor about Edinburgh this season is the greater maturity they have shown on the field. As centre Matt Scott explained last week, the players had to persuade head coach Richard Cockerill that adopting a more expansive style was not unduly risky – and that persuasion was made as much by their actions on the field as by their words off it. 

“As a player group, any good side will tell you, the players are the ones on the pitch and we need to take a little bit of an onus ourselves, to drive things a little bit more, telling the coaches what’s working, what we can get better at and what needs to change,” Pyrgos added. “I think you can see that the squad’s getting older and guys have a little bit more experience, and they add that to the group. In our attacking game that’s definitely helped, guys are taking it on themselves, and sharing that with the group. You’re seeing the results of that so far.”

At 30, Pyrgos is now a senior member of the squad, a fact reflected in his being given the captaincy along with fellow-scrum-half Nic Groom while Stuart McInally was away on Scotland duty. But Scott and Bennett are also senior figures now, and in the pack there is no shortage of leaders in addition to McInally. Which means that Pyrgos and Groom have not felt they have had to shoulder the burden of leadership on their own, and it is also a sign that the squad in general is now considerably more mature than when Cockerill took over just over two years ago. 

“As a captain you’re not the only voice,” Pyrgos added. “Myself and Nic when he plays are the leaders, but there’s a lot of guys with experience as well who share that role and bring things to the squad. 

“If we get the international players back, they’re definitely quality players and they’re coming back into a team that is playing well. Sometimes they return to a team that’s struggling and you want to rush them back, but that’s not happening here. The team’s going well, and there’s good depth in the squad that breeds competition and takes the team forward.”

That was the month that was: October 2019

About Stuart Bathgate 1393 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.