Press Pass with Mike Blair

Press Pass with Mike Blair

Get the latest from Head Coach Mike Blair as he spoke with press in the build up to Monday's 1872 Cup and United Rugby Championship Round 8 clash with Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun.

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On this week's Scottish Government announcement of restricted crowds

“We’re really disappointed but at the same time we’re really understanding of the situation.

“Cases are on the rise. I’m no medic, but our doctor is telling us about the concerns he’s got, we’re reading about it in the papers and hearing it from Nicola Sturgeon – so we disappointed because we love playing in front of a crowd, but at the same time we understand the situation so that’s just where we are at the moment.

On the disappointment for players not playing in front of fans

“Part of the whole theatrics of the event is the Edinburgh and Glasgow crowds going at each other, trying to see who can make the most noise, and that really creates the experience for the players as well.

"So, they will be absolutely gutted, but, over the last 24 months or so, this is something the players have had to deal with.

“I’ve been really impressed with the resilience we have shown in difficult circumstances – with players pulling out of games against tough opposition at the last minute and the team still finding a way to win – so my expectation is that these guys are going to rise to the occasion and show their resilience again to put out a really good performance against Glasgow.”

On two teams in good form

“These gams always have something about them. There is always something to play for, there’s always a story leading into them, and Glasgow have been playing some excellent rugby.

“From what I could see from their game against Exeter, they were really impressive, with some good tempo and energy to their game.

“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 on this competition – and the stakes are higher when it is derby game against a team who are in our qualification pool for Europe. So, there’s plenty on it – and there always in these games.”

On the week off and preparation

“If we win the game then it has worked for us and if we lose the game it has worked against us. So, it is not necessarily the reason for winning or losing a game.

“It has been nice to take stock a little bit, the teams playing last week have been under a little bit of pressure Covid-wise about whether they could get the game on, and who would play, while we were able to take some time away and refresh ourselves before getting back into things this week.

“So, hopefully it will work for us, but Glasgow will say that the fact they got a game means they will be more battle-hardened and potentially better equipped from that side.

“So, I don’t think it will have too much to do with the result, in the end.”

On what the game means to him personally

“They are always emotional games. You are playing against friends a lot of the time. You are playing against opponents for Scotland selection. And you are playing for the supporters as well – giving them bragging rights over their rivals – not on Twitter in my day but in the pubs and so on.

“I enjoyed them. I didn’t like the fact it was usually wet because that didn’t particularly suit my game-plan, but it’s a fantastic occasion and I know from our guys that they are really looking forward to it.

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