Watson wants more bragging rights from 1872 derby

© SNSHamish Watson can't wait to "beat up" his mates on the Glasgow side in the Boxing Day derby clash.
Hamish Watson can't wait to "beat up" his mates on the Glasgow side in the Boxing Day derby clash.

There might be some of his best mates in blue and black on the other side of the pitch but Hamish Watson wants “to beat them up” in the 1872 Cup clash at BT Murrayfield on Boxing Day.

Not literally, of course, but even though the players know each other so well the physicality of the derby games rises to a new level when Edinburgh and Glasgow lock horns in their annual meetings.

“After the game it’ll all be fine, but that 80 minutes is as intense as you get,” said Watson, who missed out on both Edinburgh’s wins in the fixture last year due to injury but cannot wait to get out there to defend the trophy the capital club have won in each of the last two seasons.

“We’re all pretty pumped up, Edinburgh versus Glasgow has always got that rivalry,” added the Scotland open side. “You could be best mates with one of the Glasgow boys, but I think when it comes to this game you both want to beat each other up.”

Bragging rights matter quite obviously – especially when they last all year – but league points are also crucial.

“Our back-to-back wins last year it actually made a big difference for the league table,” he said. “We were looking pretty strong in January after winning both legs last year, although the games aren’t in a week this year.

“In terms of Scotland fans and the Scotland coaches, everyone involved in Scottish rugby will be watching this game, so it’s a massive one for all the players to try and put their hand up and show the Scottish public and the national squad coaches what they can do as well.”

Part of Watson’s job will be to subdue Glasgow’s in-form playmaker and Scotland team-mate Finn Russell, coming off back-to-back man of the match performances up against the great Dan Carter in the Warriors’ two wins over French champions Racing 92.

“Did he have a good game? I didn’t watch it,” deadpanned Watson. “He’s been going well, so good on him, but I think they always do struggle to play their normal game a bit against us. So we’ve got to try and do that again.

“As a 7, traditionally you’ve got to try and rough up the 10 a bit but there’s a bit of responsibility on every player not to let Finn do his usual tricks. We’ve got to keep an eye on him: he’s a very good player.”

Edinburgh maybe didn’t impress as much in their games against Stade Francais, slow starts in both games being followed by comebacks in the second half.

“We’re struggling to put together a good 80-minute defensive performance,” added Watson. “At the weekend we didn’t concede any points in that second half, but first half we struggled massively. Then the week before we had a red card, and we didn’t conceded a try a man down.

“We as players need to sort it out. The coaches can only do so much. It’s more mental stuff and us as players have all got to try and sort that together and put in an 80-minute performance.

“Even against Quins and Ulster, which have probably been our two standout wins of the season, we sort of dropped off a bit towards the end as well. It’s hard to put your finger on, but hopefully we can get that right for the Glasgow game.”

Edinburgh will start Duncan Weir at 10 against the club he left in the summer and there are four changes in the team that just failed to overhaul Stade in Paris last Thursday.

As well as Weir replacing Jason Tovey, Phil Burleigh is back after a one-match suspension, skipper Grant Gilchrist returns in the second row and Magnus Bradbury, who signed a new three-year contract with the club yesterday, comes in for Nasi Manu.

Wing Tom Brown will make his 100th appearance for the club on the wing, while Sean Kennedy could reach the half-century if he comes off the bench.

Edinburgh team: B Kinghorn; D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh, T Brown; D Weir, S Hidalgo-Clyne; A Dickinson, R Ford, S Berghan; G Gilchrist, B Toolis; M Bradbury, H Watson, C du Preez.

Replacements: S McInally, A Dell, M McCallum, F McKenzie, V Mata, S Kennedy, J Tovey, G Bryce.