Van der Merwe returns for 150th anniversary 1872 Cup opener
Scotland wing Duhan van der Merwe returns as Edinburgh Rugby make five changes for tomorrow night’s historic 150th anniversary 1872 Cup opening leg at Scotstoun Stadium (Friday 23 December, kick-off 7.35pm) – live on Viaplay.
World rugby’s oldest intercity rivalry celebrates a landmark anniversary exactly 150 years and one month from the first-ever meeting between the two cities at Burbank Park, Glasgow, on 23 November 1872.
Edinburgh Ruby are the current holders of the famous trophy – which this week was replenished to celebrate the anniversary of the fixture – while the definitive head-to-head record between the two sides has now been confirmed, with Edinburgh taking inter-city honours 70 times to Glasgow’s 52, with 15 draws in the 150-year history of the rivalry.
In the backline, Van der Merwe is once again fit after a late withdrawal through injury against Castres last Saturday – the British & Irish Lion returns in place of Damien Hoyland.
Charlie Savala – a try-scorer against Castres Olympique – starts at stand-off as Blair Kinghorn misses out through injury.
With Matt Currie picking up a knock against Castres, James Lang switches to outside centre, allowing club centurion Chris Dean to return to the starting XV at 12.
Tom Cruse – who played nearly 78 minutes in the victory over Castres – make his first start at hooker in place of Stuart McInally who remains in the graduated return to play protocol.
In the back-row, academy graduate Connor Boyle starts at openside flanker in place of Luke Crosbie, meaning co-captain Jamie Ritchie switches to the blindside.
Ahead of the match, Head Coach Mike Blair said: “For the players, it’s absolutely brilliant to be involved in such a historic fixture for both clubs.
“This is a derby that has stood the test of time and we’re proud to celebrate 150 years of rugby rivalry in a match-up that is a cornerstone of Scottish rugby history.
“There has been a brilliant buzz around training this week, which you’d expect in the build-up to a derby, and I’ve been really impressed with the squad’s attitude and work rate after a strong win against Castres last weekend.
“Derbies are brilliant games to be part of and we’re hugely excited to represent the capital city at Scotstoun tomorrow night.”
Argentine star Emilliano Boffelli continues at full-back as Van der Merwe and Wes Goosen start on opposite wings.
Lang and Dean link-up in midfield, with scrum-half Ben Vellacott – who this week penned a new deal with the capital club – and Savala paired at half-back.
Cruse packs down alongside props Pierre Schoeman (loosehead) and WP Nel (tighthead) up front as locks Glen Young and co-captain Grant Gilchrist continue in the second-row.
The inclusion of Boyle at openside is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-row with Ritchie and Fijian number 8 Viliame Mata completing the pack.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium in the BKT United Rugby Championship
Friday 23 December (kick-off 7.35pm) – live on Viaplay.
15. Emiliano Boffelli (24)
14. Wes Goosen (6)
13. James Lang (18)
12. Chris Dean (130)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (70)
10. Charlie Savala (20)
9. Ben Vellacott (28)
1. Pierre Schoeman (91)
2. Tom Cruse (2)
3. WP Nel (180)
4. Glen Young (17)
5. Grant Gilchrist (182) CO-CAPTAIN
6. Jamie Ritchie (91) CO-CAPTAIN
7. Connor Boyle (25)
8. Viliame Mata (104)
16. Patrick Harrison (8)
17. Boan Venter (36)
18. Angus Williams (17)
19. Marshall Sykes (31)
20. Ben Muncaster (24)
21. Henry Pyrgos (77)
22. Jaco van der Walt (92)
23. Cammy Scott (1)
Unavailable: Mark Bennett, Dave Cherry, Matt Currie, Darcy Graham, Nick Haining, Damien Hoyland, Cammy Hutchison, Henry Immelman, Blair Kinghorn, Adam McBurney, Stuart McInally, Hamish Watson.