Graham returns for 1872 Cup opener
Scotland winger Darcy Graham returns to Edinburgh Rugby’s starting line-up for tomorrow night’s 1872 Cup first leg match against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium (Monday 27 December, kick-off 7pm) – live on Premier Sports
Graham is one of 14 internationalists selected in the capital side’s starting XV which also includes seven changes to the group that claimed a famous European victory against Saracens a fortnight ago.
Recently re-signed Academy graduate Cammy Hutchison is selected at inside centre, while a refreshed half-back combination sees scrum-half Henry Pyrgos paired with stand-off Jaco van der Walt, who returns from injury to make his first start since October.
Three further changes are made to the pack as Fijian international Lee-Roy Atalifo gets the nod at tighthead prop, Scotland cap Jamie Hodgson is named at lock and Magnus Bradbury starts at number 8.
Tomorrow night’s clash is the first of back-to-back festive derbies, with the winner of world rugby's oldest inter-city rivalry determined by aggregate format over the two fixtures.
The return leg will take place at DAM Health Stadium on Sunday 2 January (kick-off 2pm) and is once again live on Premier Sports.
Ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Mike Blair said: “These games always have something about them. There is always something to play for, there’s always a story leading into them and we’ve talked about that this week as a group in terms of the history and importance of the derby fixtures.
“They are always emotional games. You are representing the club and the city, while you are pulling on the jersey in a hugely historic fixture. You are also playing for the supporters as well – giving them bragging rights over their rivals.
“We’ve been pleased with the direction that we’ve been heading in, we’ve had some good results, but we also know that we’ve got to be at our very best when we play against anyone in this competition – and the stakes are higher when it is derby game against a team who are in our URC Conference. So, there’s plenty on it – and there always in these games.”
The inclusion of Graham on the wing is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-three as Argentine internationals Emiliano Boffelli and Ramiro Moyano – both playing in their first intercity derby – continue at full-back and wing respectively.
Scotland international outside centre Mark Bennett links-up with Hutchison in midfield, with Pyrgos – who skippers the side – and Van der Walt selected at half-back.
Up front, club captain and hooker Stuart McInally packs down alongside props Pierre Schoeman and Atalifo, while newly-capped locks Hodgson and Marshall Sykes complete the tight-five.
Number 8 Bradbury anchors an all-Scotland back-row that sees Luke Crosbie and British & Irish Lion Hamish Watson continue at blindside and openside flanker respectively.
Elsewhere, summer recruit Glen Young is named among the replacements and will make his Edinburgh Rugby debut if called upon.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun in Round 8 of the United Rugby Championship
Monday 27 December, kick-off 7pm – live on Premier Sports
15. Emiliano Boffelli (3)
14. Darcy Graham (44)
13. Mark Bennett (59) VICE-CAPTAIN
12. Cammy Hutchison (7)
11. Ramiro Moyano (3)
10. Jaco van der Walt (75)
9. Henry Pyrgos (57) CAPTAIN
1. Pierre Schoeman (72)
2. Stuart McInally (159) VICE-CAPTAIN
3. Lee-Roy Atalifo (15)
4. Marshall Sykes (14)
5. Jamie Hodgson (30)
6. Luke Crosbie (65)
7. Hamish Watson (122)
8. Magnus Bradbury (101)
16. Dave Cherry (44)
17. Harrison Courtney (1)
18. Angus Williams (6)
19. Pierce Phillips (3)
20. Glen Young*
21. Ben Vellacott (8)
22. Charlie Savala (6)
23. Chris Dean (110)
Unavailable: Connor Boyle, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Grahamslaw, Nick Haining, Damien Hoyland, Henry Immelman, James Johnstone, Blair Kinghorn, Mesulame Kunavula, James Lang, Viliame Mata, Ben Muncaster, WP Nel, Jamie Ritchie, George Taylor, Ben Toolis, Boan Venter
*Edinburgh Rugby competitive debut