For the past number of seasons, Edinburgh’s home matches have taken place at Murrayfield where crowds of as little as 3 to 4,000 were lost in the enormity of a 70,000 capacity international stadium.
Myreside staged many big games in the past including those against Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and has now been upgraded to accomadate attendances of 6, 000 and provide an atmosphere impossible at Murrayfield.
“At Murrayfield, Edinburgh were rattling round in a huge stadium,” says the famous former Watsonians, Scotland and Lions centre Scott Hastings.
“For me, the beauty of Edinburgh rugby is all about passion, about creating an atmosphere. Ultimately, it’s up to the players to respond by playing attractive, dynamic rugby, but also for the crowd to get behind the team and to be more intimate and vocal.”
The response of the Edinburgh rugby public, which has been apathetic in the past, has been hugely supportive. A body of supporters they call the “BlacknRed Army” packed out the ground for a recent European Challenge Cup win over Timisoara Saracens and the “sold out” signs have been up for tonight’s game from early in the week.
Accordingly, a Munster team showing 11 changes from that which completed their Champions Cup campaign in style against Racing 92 and captained for the first time by out-half Tyler Bleyendaal, can expect a warm reception as they go in search of the points that would send them back to the top of the Pro 12 table.
Only Jean Kleyn survives in the pack from the Racing game. Among those looking forward to a rare start are debutant Peter McCabe, Rhys Marshall, Dave Foley, Dave O’Callaghan and Conor Oliver. Perhaps as a type of insurance policy, Dave Kilcoyne, Billy Holland and Tommy O’Donnell are included in the replacements.
Calvin Nash, a schools star of the recent past, had been expected to line out for the Ireland U20 team tonight, but has instead been snapped up from the academy to play his first senior match for the province on the right wing, while Jaco Taute switches to full-back to make way for Dan Goggin’s inclusion in the centre alongside Francis Saili with Rory Scannell dropping to the bench.
Acting Edinburgh head coach Duncan Hodge welcomes back flanker John Hardie for his first outing since he injured an ankle playing for Scotland against Australia last November.
Hodge has made two further amendments to the forward pack with Jack Cosgrove and Murray McCallum set to start.
In the backline scrum-half Sean Kennedy and stand-off Jason Tovey enter the fray, while Phil Burleigh returns to start at inside centre.
“We’re looking forward to heading back to a packed house at Myreside”, said Hodge. “Munster are heading to Edinburgh on fine form and with a chance of going top of the table but we’ve also hit a fine vein of form which gives us a lot of confidence. ”
Given Munster are second in the Pro 12 table with 46 points, 26 more than 10th placed Edinburgh, this game should provide the visitors with a great chance of going back to the top of affairs. But the current surge in the form of Scottish teams, along with the enthusiasm generated by Edinburgh’s move to Myreside suggests this may be a banana skin for the visitors.
B Kinghom; D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh, T Brown; J Tovey, S Kennedy; K Cosgrove, N Cochrane capt, M McCallum, F McKenzie, B Toolis, M Bradbury, J Hardie, C du Preez.
S McInally, D Appiah, N Beavon, L Carmichael, V Mata, S Hidalgo-Clyne, M Allen, R Scholes.
J Taute; C Nash, F Saili, D Goggin, R O’Mahony; T Bleyendaal capt, D Williams; P McCabe, R Marshall, S Archer, J Kleyn, D Foley, D O’Callaghan, C Oliver, J O’Donoghue.
K O’Byrne, D Kilcoyne, B Scott, D O’Shea, B Holland, T O’Donnell, A Lloyd, R Scannell.
B Whitehouse (Wales).