EDINBURGH will take a squad of 26 players to Moscow for Saturday’s Challenge Cup tie against Krasny Yar, but it is uncertain whether Magnus Bradbury will be one of them. The team confirmed yesterday that the 22-year-old, appointed captain only at the start of the season, is currently suspended until an inquiry has been held into an incident in Edinburgh city centre which saw him sustain a head injury.
“Edinburgh Rugby is aware of an incident involving club captain Magnus Bradbury,” a statement from the team said on Sunday. “The player is now subject to an internal disciplinary procedure and is unavailable for selection whilst this continues.
“Edinburgh Rugby takes any disciplinary issue seriously therefore the matter will be investigated and appropriate action will be taken. No further comment will be made at this time.”
Bradbury was on a day off and did not have training the following day, so his employers do not have any issue with his being out in town. The relevant factor is how well he looked after himself while there, and whether he should be held responsible for the injury.
Edinburgh have not revealed the timetable for any investigation, or any possible range of sanctions beyond the one-match ban that the forward has already undergone. In theory Bradbury, whose mother is an SRU vice-president, could therefore be free to play in Russia – provided, that is, he recovers from the head knock which would have ruled him out of the Pool 4 win at London Irish in any case.
The affair is an embarrassment for head coach Richard Cockerill, whose wisdom in appointing a relatively inexperienced player as captain has already been called into question, albeit for Bradbury’s on-field leadership rather than for any of his activities away from the game. The scepticism was voiced most strongly after Edinburgh’s home defeat by Benetton in the PRO14, although it should be added that the forward was far from the only member of the team who failed to do himself justice.
Cockerill would be within his rights to strip Bradbury of the captaincy – something that can be done by any head coach without disciplinary reasons being required – although that seems unlikely given this is thought to be the first time the player has been involved in an incident of this sort. Instead, a suspension for two or three games would be enough for the coach to show that he will not tolerate breaches of discipline, while also showing that Cockerill backs his own original belief that the player is the right man to lead a young and relatively inexperienced squad.
The back row is the strongest area of the Edinburgh squad just now, so there will certainly be no pressure from a playing point of view for Bradbury to make a swift return. Jamie Ritchie and substitute Luke Crosbie both scored tries in the 37-14 win over Irish in Reading, while both Cornell du Preez and John Hardie had arguably their best performances of the season so far. Hamish Watson could also be available again after sitting out the trip to England.
Krasny Yar will go into the game with their confidence on a high after beating holders Stade Francais 34-29 on Saturday, but Cockerill is sure his team can make it two wins out of two in the pool provided they play to their capabilities. “We just need to make sure that we do our things right – if we do that we’ll be good enough to beat them,” he said. “We can be good next week, strong next week, and then go on to Treviso and Ospreys.
“We’re happy with the win [over London Irish]; we’ve just got to keep building. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Of course they have, but at least there are distinct signs that their work is now paying off. Several other players in addition to Hardie and Du Preez were back close to their best at the Madejski Stadium, and even when the team as a whole had sticky spells on Saturday they were able to think their way out of trouble.
“It was good to get a bonus point,” said scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, who had his most impressive display of the season so far. “With the personnel we had in both teams it was always going to be an open game; we expected that. We wanted to throw the ball around and create opportunities – we knew there were going to be opportunities through them rather than round them.
“There was a lot of mistakes, but that’s within us to fix. We just need to tighten up a few things. Our exit strategy needs to be better – they got quite a few points from our mistakes in our own half receiving kick-offs. We need to tighten that up and put the pressure back on them. When we held the ball down there, we got points, which was good.”