1872 Cup Legends: Tim Visser, the Flying Dutchman
In the build up to this month's intercity derbies, we caught up with the club's all-time top try scorer and bonafide 1872 Cup legend, Tim Visser.
Born in De Bilt, Visser became a mainstay in the capital side following a move from Newcastle. The legendary winger went on to make 130 appearances in Edinburgh and racked up a scintillating 345 points, becoming the club’s record try scorer with 69 scores.
However, during his five years in the capital there was one standout fixture: the 1872 Cup.
“It was always such an important game. It counted towards the season so not only was it important in terms of picking up points, but it was the local derby and there was some real fire in the fixture, and on top of that you’re playing for a Scotland spot.
“It was a big game for all involved, and there was some real fire in it, especially from our side.
"When I first joined Edinburgh, we hadn’t won the Cup for a few years, Glasgow were dominant for a long time, and when we eventually started winning it, the game became all the sweeter.”
With only two professional sides in Scotland, the 1872 Cup is always a showcase of the best rugby talent the nation can offer, and for Visser it was a chance to not only gain bragging rights, but potentially put himself in the driving seat for a Scotland starting berth – making it stand out as one of the biggest derbies in club rugby.
“I never tried to concentrate on the players opposite me, I always want to concentrate on myself. But I was always up against Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour which made it more interesting, and then funnily enough later I was up against Maitland when he was at Saracens, and I was playing for Harlequins!
“It was always an interesting fixture for that reason, but in general you just wanted to beat Glasgow and get those bragging rights – going into a Scotland camp having lost against them was never fun.
“Quins have Saracens and London Irish in terms of London bragging rights, but it doesn’t get much bigger than Edinburgh against Glasgow for me, just because there are only two clubs in Scotland. It’s always the best players in Scotland going against each-other, and that really showed in the attendances we would get for those games.”
Visser’s starring 1872 Cup moment came in 2014/15, when Edinburgh claimed their first 1872 Cup win after five seasons of Glasgow dominance. The capital side lost the first leg of the fixture 6-16 at Scotstoun and were quickly 13 points down on aggregate in the second leg.
It was at this point that Visser wrote himself into the 1872 history books, scoring a remarkable four-minute brace to turn the tie upside down.
First scything through a gap in the Glasgow defence, before scoring a memorable interception try to help Edinburgh on their way to a 20-8 win, 26-24 on aggregate. It was a legendary moment for the club’s record try scorer, and it came as a result of a ‘do or die’ mentality at BT Murrayfield.
“I missed the first game of the Cup that year and we lost, but then I came fresh into the game and ended up scoring twice which was lovely!
"It was the first time that I won the Cup, so it was a big game for me going into a Six Nations straight after it, but there was just real competition going into that game. We just wanted to be dominant and managed to do it on the night.
“When you’re 13 points down it becomes real cup rugby, and we went hell for leather and took a few more risks. I took an interception try which shows the mindset we were playing with; I was going to have a sniff at any loose pass and fortunately Pete Horne threw one straight into my hands.
“It became all or nothing, and we were very good with our backs to the wall. You can afford to take a bit more risk, because you’re in a lose-lose situation when you’re that far behind, you might as well just go for it as we did, and it worked out pretty well.”
Visser built a reputation as a lethal finisher, racking up impressive try scoring tallies wherever he played. The Dutch-born Scotland internationalist retired in 2019 after a glittering international and club career, and a standout will always be the tries in 2014 against the inter-city rivals.
“It’s a really special moment for me, scoring tries that are instrumental is always nice. I was an out-and-out try scorer, that’s what I wanted to be known for, so scoring tries like that is great. Doing it against your biggest opposition is even greater.
“It’s right up there in my greatest moments in club rugby, I scored a last-minute winner for Harlequins against Saracens which is probably on par with that one, but that night against Glasgow was certainly up there.
“It’s lovely to have played my part in my time in Edinburgh, and there are a few records that I made while I was there that I hope will stay for a little bit longer!”
The winger’s legendary moment is one that the Edinburgh faithful will not forget in a hurry, but what about this year’s 1872 Cup? Visser has made his predictions.
“On paper I would back Edinburgh, we’re absolutely flying now and in great form which is testament to how Mike Blair is running the camp.
"However, it’s cup rugby against our biggest opponents, so you can’t rest on your laurels. It almost doesn’t matter what has happened previously, you know Glasgow will be fired up, but I’m backing Edinburgh to win it this year.”