URC: Edinburgh v Scarlets: no more Mr Nice Guy

Head coach Sean Everitt has spoken to Magnus Bradbury about a return to capital but Matt Scott is not a target

Edinburgh head coach Sean Everitt. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Edinburgh head coach Sean Everitt. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SEAN EVERITT is an affable fellow. His style, demeanour and body shape is unimposing. He always smiles politely and patiently answers every question – no matter how inane – when carrying out his press duties. But the Edinburgh head coach made it clear after today’s training session at Hive Stadium that he has a ruthless side, and is beginning to lose patience with his team’s damaging habit of losing focus and discipline in key moments of games. The South African insisted that there will be consequences for players who keep on making the same costly mistakes.

“There’s always been player responsibility but if you’ve run out of options and you’re not getting a reaction then you have to be more severe on the consequences,” he said. “We all know, and I state it openly, that if we concede less than 10 penalties we win. That’s a trend of Edinburgh – you can’t go out and concede 14 and expect to win.”

“It’s been a tough few weeks and to stomach the loss on Saturday was the toughest part of it,” Everitt added, reflecting on last weekend’s Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to Sharks in Durban. “In the first 40 minutes we did everything possible to win the game. The talk in the changing room was incredibly positive and the guys were confident that if they stuck together for the next 40 they could win that game.


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“The disappointing part of it was how we lost the game. We gave opportunities to the Sharks with ill-discipline on our side and we’ve got to take responsibility for that as individuals and as a team.

“If you concede 10 penalties in the second half you’re not going to win the game at 16-14 at half-time. So we’ve had a chat about that with the strategy group and with the team and it’s something we’re focusing on now going forward because every game is a knockout game.

“We looked at the penalties and there’s a variety of them,” he added. “So, it’s not rolling away at the tackle, and for me that’s [down to] effort. Getting onside is also effort, so it’s definitely controllable. Sometimes the scrums can be a lot trickier, and we can’t blame the one or two scrum penalties in the second half for the capitulation. That happens.

“Penalties and turnovers are contributing factors to any game of rugby and the higher level of rugby you play, the higher number of penalties or turnovers that you concede, your chances of winning drop by 70 percent. If you are winning those penalties and turnovers, your chances of winning increase by 70 percent and that is a stat at the moment. That’s what we’re telling the players.

“When you are under pressure in certain areas of the field, or you have a soft moment and you are retreating and you’re trying to get back onside, that’s when it becomes difficult not to give away a penalty. Some of the penalties are excusable but some of them are definitely controllable and that’s what we need to fix.”

It will all sound very familiar to those who have watched the trials and tribulations of the Scotland national team over the last couple of months, many of whom are also involved in the Edinburgh squad.

“Some of the players have found consequences for that in their performances with Scotland,” noted Everitt. “Any coach will tell you that you can’t let it go. We have been good at times. Against Bayonne we conceded less than 10 [penalties] and had a good win against them, but it becomes increasingly difficult away from home. You can’t show the wrong pictures or give the refs an opportunity to go against you. I’m not saying the ref is at fault here at all. There are 50/50s where we could get out of tackles – the law says you’ve got to move immediately and we know that. It’s an easy fix and controllable.

“So, as a group we have to get better collectively. We spoke openly at the beginning of the season about being an 80-minute team, and at that moment we’re not performing for 80 although we are finishing strongly in the last 10 minutes in all the games.

“We haven’t played well for 80, [against Sharks we] went from first minute to 40th and we were four penalties down and creating opportunities, then suddenly, from 40 to 60, we give away six penalties and we don’t get territory and we don’t put ourselves in a position.

“In the last five minutes we get two penalties and put ourselves in the opposition 22 and we score two tries and we come back. We’ve got to do that for 80.”

Asked what he plans to do in order to ensure this does not remain an ongoing issue, Everitt made it clear that it is up to the players to decide whether they want to be serious contenders are also-rans.

 “It’s always difficult when it comes to that but it’s how we carry ourselves during the week as well,” he said. “We focus on the discipline there, the discipline in training and then setting ourselves goals for Saturday on the number of penalties we want to concede – because you are going to concede penalties, that’s a certainty – and then individual consequences for the guys who are repeat offenders.

“I think the players in the changing room are aware [that] maybe they’re not achieving what they should. They’ve certainly had opportunities and that’s why I say it was so disappointing on Saturday because they were so close to achieving something probably not a lot of people had given us hope for.

“With the player group that we have and the responsibilities that we have and some of the players knowing that they are coming to the end of their careers, time is running out.

“We did speak about that last week. We say we want to win something then you get yourselves into a position and you say ‘don’t worry, we’ll do it next year’ but your rugby career is very short and sometimes you run out of time.

 

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Meanwhile, Everitt confirmed that he is actively looking for back-row reinforcements ahead of next season in light of Fijian No 8 Viliame Mata leaving the club to join Bristol, but was non-committal about whether former Edinburgh-man Magnus Bradbury could head in the opposite direction as a direct replacement.

Yes, we have spoken to a number of players [including Bradbury] – it’s just whether they are available or not and if they want to accept the opportunity here at Edinburgh,” he cryptically surmised.

“With Bill leaving, we are looking for a replacement for him. In saying that, we do have Ben Muncaster, Tom Dodd and Connor Boyle who have played really well when they have had the opportunity. We’ve got under-20 players coming through like Liam McConnell and a young guy like Tom Currie, who unfortunately suffered a concussion after the first few minutes of the Scotland under-20s Six Nations opener but came back late in the tournament. The pre-season will help with their development, but we certainly will be looking around to see who is available to come in and fill those boots.”

Asked about the possibility of centre Matt Scott returning to the club, he said: “Not at this stage.”

Everitt added that Harry Paterson, who has not played since the start of March due to a foot injury, is the only member of Edinburgh’s walking wounded with a chance of coming back into the selection mix for this Saturday night’s home URC clash against Scarlets.

“It’s not 100 per cent that he will play on the weekend. It will just depend if he has any flare-ups in the morning. We could have a settled bunch. I am looking to rest two players,” he said.


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About David Barnes 3995 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.

7 Comments

  1. Agree with the point that Everitt has to do better next year so prove his worth, but if he does we could have some season as we’re not that far off the pace now.

    I like what he says above, it’s true, the guys need to concentrate for 80 mins or move on.

  2. Scotty not in Edinburghs’ sights? Midfield is a problem area; backup at 10 and centres to make an impact and cross the gain line with regularity, are needed. Magnus would be a bonus as Mata would be a big loss regardless of the depth Edinburgh have. The back row needs a big player for hard yards despite the above. Edinburgh, like Scotland, need an angry man to motivate and lead up front.

    • Midfielders aren’t the problem. They can’t function with a dysfunctional stand off. The ‘dont back down double down’ attitude to Healy is killing the whole backline. The SRU project player fallacy in a nutshell.

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  3. I am prepared to reserve judgement on Everitt until next season when he’s had a full pre-season and opportunity to shape the squad, but at this point in time there have to be real concerns around the discipline and mindset side of things, not to mention the total lack of attacking strategy!

    After a run of bad results and performances, Edinburgh need to put a hapless Scarlets side to the sword this weekend. They need to rack up a solid victory to build some kind of momentum for the final games, because the season is in serious danger of turning into yet another damp squib.

  4. Isn’t April a little late to decide that “there will be consequences for players who keep on making the same costly mistakes”?

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    • This just highlights the issue with Scottish Rugby. Says with Mata leaving they are looking at reinforcements doesn’t mention the fact there is still 3 full internationals with Crosbie comfortable at 8. Then mentions 5 young Scottish boys they also have as options.
      Let the young boys play, maybe bring in an cheap experienced non international to add support during international windows but other areas need investment more.

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