Racing 92 v Edinburgh: visitors outclassed and out of Champions Cup

Head coach Richard Cockerill philosophical after his team cough up 56 points against Parisian maestros

Teddy Thomas scored two late tries in a big win for Racing 92 over Edinburgh. Image: © Craig Watson -
Teddy Thomas scored two late tries in a big win for Racing 92 over Edinburgh. Image: © Craig Watson -

Racing 92 56

Edinburgh 3

SCOTLAND’S involvement in European rugby this season came to an end with this comprehensive defeat for Edinburgh in Paris. Richard Cockerill’s side battled bravely but couldn’t suppress the pace, power and accuracy of their opponents, which manifested itself in some of the most breath-taking passages of rugby you are likely to see in this or any other campaign.

“The scoreboard doesn’t lie, does it?” said Cockerill. “We started manfully, but if you’re not accurate and physically you drop off, then you get punished.

“They’re a great side, they’re well put together, and those games can easily get away from you and it did.

“They’ve got some real threat, some real physicality in that forward pack, and we just couldn’t cope with it. The reality is we just weren’t good enough to cope with the pace and the physicality and the consistency.

“They’ve got a strong bench. They brought that on and that made it harder. They lost Henry Chavancy early on but they brought on Simon Zebo and Kurtley Beale goes to 12 – it’s slightly different personnel than we have on offer.”

“We were not good enough to be anywhere near them today.”

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Edinburgh started in sprightly fashion, winning back Blair Kinghorn‘s towering kick-off and testing Racing’s defence with several sharp phases before James Johnstone‘s well timed pass created an overlap on the left, but Duhan van Der Merwe butchered the opportunity with a poor pass to Damien Hoyland.

It looked like the visitors had snatched the lead a few seconds later when a slick move off a line-out sent Johnstone clear of Racing’s midfield, but the video showed that Jamie Ritchie had knocked on when transferring possession from set-piece to Dave Cherry on the peel.

Instead it was Racing who took the lead when WP Nel found himself on the wrong side of a tackle and Maxime Machenaud stepped up to kick the points. Kinghorn swiftly cancelled that out when Camille Chat was penalised for hands in a ruck right in front of the posts, but that was the last time they troubled the scoreboard operator.

Edinburgh will have been pretty pleased with their opening quarter, having matched their illustrious hosts in most areas, and actually creating more scoring opportunities, but moving into the second quarter Racing began to crank up their power game. Machenaud hit the post with a 45-yard penalty, then Chat muscled over for the opening try after a scrappy line-out tap-back from Grant Gilchrist.

Machenaud had no problem bisecting the posts when Cherry was penalised for not rolling away after a tackle, and the scrum-half then added the conversion to his own try – which had featured a sublime offload from Virimi Vakatawa and a Jordan Joseph swatting off van der Merwe with an old-fashioned palm to the face – to make it 20-3.

Having been starved of possession for 20 minutes, Edinburgh finished the half strongly with an exhilarating, free-wheeling passage of play. Unfortunately for the visitors, referee Luke Pearce got in the way of Henry Pyrgos‘ pass and Racing were able to regroup at the scrum. Edinburgh kept their foot on the gas but the hosts managed to hold Hamish Watson up over the line.

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While Racing quickly reclaimed the initiative at the start of the second half, Edinburgh initially hung in there with some gutsy defence, and had one or two lucid moments of their own when they managed to get their hands on the ball.

Stand-off Antoine Gibert, having taken over kicking duties from Machenaud, missed one penalty but was successful with his second effort just before the hour mark.

There was a lengthy hold-up as Racing’s replacement second-row Dominic Bird was treated and then taken from the pitch in a stretcher following a neck injury, but the hosts did not let that knock them off their stride, and Joseph burst over for try number three within a minute of the game’s resumption.

Guram Gogichashvili got try number four just a few minutes later with another swashbuckling passage of play, then Teddy Thomas piled on the misery when he scooped up a ball which had deflected loose off Mark Bennett‘s knee and disappeared up the left touchline for a 60-yard unchallenged walk-in.

Edinburgh’s goose was now well and truly cooked, and Thomas collected Louis Dupichot pass off the deck after first phase move to score again with five minutes to go, and Francois Trinh-Duc brought up the half century just before the final whistle.


Teams –

Racing 92: K Beale; T Thomas, V Vakatawa (F Trinh-Duc 69), H Chavancy (S Zebo 27), L Dupichot; A Gibert, M Machenaud (T Iribaren 58); E Ben Arous (G Gogichashvili 55), C Chat (T Baubigny 53), C Gomes (A Oz 55), B Le Roux (D Bird 61, B Palu 62), Ryan, I Diallo, B Chouzenoux, J Joseph.

Edinburgh: D Hoyland; D Graham, J Johnstone (M Bennett. 62), G Taylor, D van der Merwe; B Kinghorn (J van der Walt 44), H Pyrgos (C Shiel 51); P Schoeman (M McCallum 73), D Cherry (M Willemse 51), W Nel (S Berghan 70), M Bradbury (M Kunavula 62), G Gilchrist, J Ritchie (L Crosbie 57), H Watson, V Mata.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)


Scorers –

Racing: Tries: Chat, Machenaud, Joseph, Gogichashvili, Thomas 2, Trinh-Duc; Con: Machenaud 2, Iribaren 4; Pen: Machenaud 2, Gibert.

Edinburgh: Pen: Kinghorn.

Scoring sequence (Racing 92 first): 3-0; 3-3; 8-3; 10-3 13-3; 18-3; 20-3 (h-t) 23-3; 28-3; 30-3; 35-3; 37-3; 42-3; 44-3; 49-3; 54-3; 56-3.


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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. Edinburgh have a strong pack and good backs but without a decent 9 or 10 we are never going to be able to compete, as this season has abjectly demonstrated

  2. This, to me, emphasises very well the gap between our two teams and the top echelons of European rugby. We are simply not there. We are miles off in nearly every aspect.

    Tactically speaking, if you’re going to play a top form French side you’d better bring your lunch. As its going to be a heavy shift against lads like that.

    Strategically speaking, Edinburgh have been struggling to get above mid-table for some time. Not sure why, as I don’t think there is one cause. But Cockerill’s belligerent belief in his coaching staff needs to change. Particularly in attack.

  3. First, taking on the likes of Racing without 2 specialist locks is asking for trouble and I don’t imagine it was a gamble RC particularly wanted to take. Next picking a player who hasn’t played outside half regularly can only be justified if there are no alternatives. Finally, flinging the ball about 7’s style, while perhaps understandable, the game was gone after all, contributed to the scoreline in no small part.
    A less embarrassing score is a fairly easy fix but actually winning will be way harder. My question is can Edinburgh continue to pay Carmichael and McKenzie good wages when both have spent the last 2 years ( mainly) on the injured list. Good players but if they’re unavailable…..?

  4. Total embarrassment – I didn’t expect Edinburgh to win against a good Racing team but this was pitiful. I’m fed up listening to Cockers coming on after every dreadful defeat and saying how the opposition were a great side and are simply better than us and have better players. What sort of attitude is this. The Edinburgh team was mostly full of internationals with a forward pack that was all international apart from Schoeman – the same pack that beat France at international level. So we do have the players we simply fail to perform and make some critical mistakes at key moments. Once again we lost several key line outs that completely turned the game and led to a couple of tries. Our backs are also mostly international bar 1 but look like they have never met before at times. I will say once again Jaco VdW is a poor stand off and not good enough at this level – he stands too deep and sends out some shocking passes at times. There is no threat and no variety – where’s the chip or grubber or up and under.

    We had chances early to take the lead and should have scored just before half time but we didn’t and thats the problem – we lack accuracy at key moments. The last 20 minutes was unacceptable and we should never have shipped 50 points – we probably were 10-15 points poorer than Racing. There is some serious sorting out to do but we need to change the mind set. We should take the pitch every game saying – We can win this game and Cockers needs to instill this attitude in the team.

  5. The players look exhausted. They don’t need the Rainbow cup they need a rest. Edinburgh leak tries really badly. Attack in unimaginative, but defence is woeful. Many of the same players who put up a fabulous defence for Scotland fail at Edinburgh that’s a coaching issue. Lineout is terrible, sooner Mcinally returns the better. Centre is a real problem and with VDM leaving there will be less power in attack. On the plus side Kunavula looks like he’s really coming on.

  6. Deeply embarrassing. Fed up with Cockers saying teams are better, bigger and have more money. We had a team that was nearly all internationals and yet we capitulated. As usual we self destruct by losing a few key line outs and didn’t finish off a chance right at the start and then before half time. As HF says our pick and go is so slow and predictable. As for the backs they should be so much better but stand off is the problem – Jaco is not good enough and stands so deep that defence is never committed. We should have kept them to within 10-15 points.

  7. Ouch, that hurt. This has been a poor season for the Scottish clubs. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow seem to have gone backwards. Last year Edinburgh topped conference B and Glasgow 3rd in Conference A. The previous year Glasgow made the final. We need an honest discussion about the future in the new season especially if the South Africans turn up.

  8. We have some fantastic attacking players and they aren’t being used. The attacking ‘strategy’ is completely non-existent. Graham and DVDM need the ball in their hands and it isn’t getting there.

    Cockerill should get rid of Hodge, bring in an innovative attack coach and give him the freedom to implement new ideas… won’t hold my breath though.

  9. £11.8m deficit from running pro rugby last season – this season without crowds, it will be substantially higher – but several more millions required if Glasgow or Edinburgh are to get anywhere near close to competing in either Pro 14/16 or Europe.

  10. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say that the other team were just much better. The dynamics of their pick and go at the ruck gave them a couple of tries whereas Edinburgh seem to take forever which allows the defence to reset.

    Am I the only one thinking that Mata is a bit of a luxury players who does the flamboyant stuff but leaves the other two back row guys outnumbered at rucks?

    • Cockers has previously said they “use Mata well – you don’t see him hitting too many rucks.” I got the impression this is a deliberate tactic to keep him fresh in attack.

  11. That was awful. This season has gone from bad to worse. We need a proper clear out in some key positions.

    • Totally agree, that was a shambles. I still think cockers is the right guy, but hodge has to go, the backs do very little and the games Ed win are from very strong forward play. Hodge has had plenty time and delivered nothing. Centre is a big issue too, current players are frankly poor, and Bennett has gone backwards. I agree that players need to be moved on who are not good enough at pro 14 yet along international level.

      • Glasgow have three quality scrum halves compared to Edinburgh substandard box kickers surely one should move along m8.As for the Edinburgh midfield put the lot on the market.


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