Hastings Backs Local Talent In 1872 Cup

ImageGavin Hastings believes the fact that 16 out of Edinburgh's 36-man squad were born in the Scottish capital will add extra spice to the forthcoming 1872 Challenge Cup decider against Glasgow at Firhill Arena on 11 April, kick off 8pm.
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The former Scotland and Lions captain was also born in Edinburgh and represented his home district with distinction on numerous occasions after making his debut in 1983 against a touring New Zealand side.
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His feats for Edinburgh included scoring a hat-trick of tries against old rivals Glasgow at Meggetland during a 42-16 win in 1986.
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Now, in his role current Edinburgh chairman, Hastings admits he is hoping the class of 2008 will emerge victorious and believes the fact the majority of the players are local to Scotland's east coast will play a key part in deciding the outcome.Hastings said: "In the old inter-district championship, we were all conscious of how fantastic it was to represent Edinburgh; it is the city of my birth and the city where I played all my rugby.
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'so it certainly was a great achievement to pull on an Edinburgh jersey. We were also very conscious of the fact that the Glasgow match was the oldest inter-city derby match around and that was always very meaningful.
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"I don't ever remember losing on a regular basis to Glasgow and I don't say that flippantly. We always had hard games against them, but we always managed to produce results.
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"It was good fun and we used them as mini trials for selection for higher honours. I guess that is where these games provide a direct comparison to the current derby.
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"It is a great event in the Scottish sporting calendar and a match for everyone to get excited about. We are offering special coach travel prices to our supporters to encourage them to come to the game; it should be a fantastic atmosphere."
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With an average age of just 26, Edinburgh were tipped to struggle at the start of the season, but, following the introduction of head coach Andy Robinson, the results have perked up and the team has only lost two of their previous eight Magners League matches.
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As an Edinburgh born and bred rugby man, Hastings believes the promotion of young, local talent into the starting line-up has been one of the main factors behind the team's success so far this season.
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He said: 'there is a good nucleus there of guys who were born and brought up in Edinburgh and they have remained here to play rugby. They seem to be enjoying their rugby and that has obviously been reflected in the great team spirit here at Edinburgh.
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'these guys feel a huge loyalty to Edinburgh and even if some of the players don't have a strong bond with the city, the fact is that they have a bond with their club and their team-mates and that means a great deal.
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"It is very important to win the 1872 Challenge Cup and it means a lot to everyone associated with Edinburgh. I will be there cheering on the team and there should be a great atmosphere at Firhill Arena."
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After losing the previous Magners League match at Murrayfield against Cardiff, Hastings believes the team will produce a spirited response against Glasgow in order to finish the season with a flourish.
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He added: "It was disappointing to come unstuck against Cardiff; that was our heaviest home defeat of the season.
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"I hope the players use that as a motivational factor for next week. I certainly would encourage them to go out there and win this Challenge Cup."
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As one of the greatest players to have ever worn Scotland's number 15 shirt, Hastings has a wealth of knowledge on the game.
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And he revealed he has been handing out tips to current Scotland full-back Hugo Southwell and that he plans to increase his input in the future.
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He said: "It is certainly something I would be very keen to expand upon. This year has been about trying to get to know the guys a wee bit better.
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"Unfortunately I do have other commitments so I haven't been able to spend as much time helping the players, but, where possible, I would like to give some time and help.
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"Hopefully we can build on that for next season. I very much look forward to working in a mentoring role for one or two of the guys.
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"Even if it is just handing over what may seem to be a tiny, insignificant piece of advice that could be something that really helps the player."
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Edinburgh Rugby Club are going to be running coaches from Murrayfield Stadium to Firhill Arena when Edinburgh take on Glasgow Warriors on Friday 11th April 2008, kick off 8.00pm._ Coaches will be leaving from Murrayfield Hotel to go to Firhill Arena at 5.15pm and they will be leaving Firhill at 10pm.
Tickets (including coach travel) cost _20 for adults and _10 for concessions and can be bought by going onto https://eticketing.co.uk/scottishrugby/default.aspx or by calling 0131 346 5180.