Alan Solomons hails ‘remarkable’ Edinburgh win over Lyon
Head coach stunned by injury woes as Gunners hold on for second Challenge Cup win despite losing FIVE players in 28 minutes
Alan Solomons hailed Edinburgh’s strength as remarkable as they held on for a 25-17 win over Lyon to maintain their unbeaten start to the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
The Edinburgh head coach lost two players before kick-off and a further five inside the opening 28 minutes, including Scotland captain Grant Gilchrist, as Tom Heathcote kicked 20 points in the match to guide the Scottish club to victory at BT Murrayfield Stadium.
“In 37 years of coaching I’ve never seen anything like it,” Solomons said.
“To lose five players, and we lost two after captain’s practice: Al Dickinson and Dougie Fife, they were declared unfit this morning.
“We’d already lost five, and we lose five here. That speaks volumes for the strength in depth and the character of the side.
“I thought Ross Ford did a great job in leading that side. We had Mike Coman out, we had Grant Gilchrist gone, and the side held together there, it was remarkable.”
Edinburgh and Scotland confirmed on Saturday afternoon that Gilchrist – who had been named earlier in the week as the new Scotland captain for their viagogo Autumn Test series next month – has now been ruled out with a fractured arm.
“I’m not a medic and I can’t comment,” Solomons said when asked about the extent of the injuries. “The only people who should comment are the medical staff – they’re experts. I’m not an expert.”
The early medical update released by the club on Saturday afternoon didn’t make good reading for Solomons, with flanker Hamish Watson – who was named as one of three players set to train with the national team – also ruled out with a fractured jaw, which requires surgery, while flanker Roddy Grant also needs surgery on a fractured cheekbone. Centre/outside-half Burleigh has a torn MCL.
Solomons had earlier confirmed that Heathcote had been struggling late in the game with an ankle knock, but still kicked a last-minute penalty to deny Lyon a losing bonus point, while South African lock Anton Bresler had to play the entire second half with a knee problem with only two props and a scrum-half left on the bench.
Next up for Edinburgh is a trip to Dublin to take on reigning Guinness PRO12 champions Leinster at the RDS and Solomons admitted that it will be a struggle with so many key players out.
“At the moment, we’re very thin,” he added. “It’s a struggle. We had four loose forwards, and we lost two tonight. We had [hooker] James Hilterbrand playing on the flank.
“Leinster are a massively tough side, but at least we get a break for three weeks [after that match]. We need that.
“It will not be easy to get a side out. It’s going to be difficult, but that’s why I thought this was a remarkable performance.”