Guinness PRO12: Alan Solomons excited for Edinburgh’s development
Gunners head coach pens a new one-year deal to continue rebuilding the club after leading them to a first European final
Alan Solomons believes that Edinburgh Rugby still have a long way to go despite a recent upturn in fortunes under the South African’s leadership.
The Gunners head coach, 64, has been rewarded with a new one-year deal for leading the club to the 1872 Cup success and the European Challenge Cup final this season.
We are progressing but there is still a long way to go. I am absolutely focused on continuing this progress and realising the vision.
Despite missing out on their target of finishing in the Guinness PRO12 top six, the club are still in contention for seventh place, which would parachute them into the play-offs for a place in next season’s European Champions Cup.
After a tricky start to his tenure at BT Murrayfield, which began in the summer of 2013, Solomons has brought through a number of young Scottish players into the first team, with the likes of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Ben Toolis and Hamish Watson progressing to win senior Scotland caps in the RBS 6 Nations earlier this year.
And the South African has committed to the club until June 2016 as he attempts to realise his long-term vision for the club to have young Scottish players at the heart of the club.
“We set ourselves the target, at the start of the season, of being in the top six in the league this year and although this is no longer possible we are still challenging for a play-off spot for the European Champions Cup,” Solomons said.
“Reaching the final of the European Challenge Cup and winning the 1872 Cup have been equally pleasing and that’s testament to the hard work of the players as well as the commitment of all our backroom staff.
“The challenges we’ve faced as a squad this year have been enormous – the injury count in the home game against Lyon being a case in point – but on each occasion we have risen to the challenge.
“I feel we’re moving into the next phase of our development as a squad and that’s really exciting.
“We are progressing but there is still a long way to go. I am absolutely focused on continuing this progress and realising the vision.”
Solomons has survived calls for his head after his arrival in the Scottish capital saw a slow turnaround in fortunes as he boosted the squad with a number of personnel arriving from the southern hemisphere.
Everyone at Scottish Rugby acknowledges the contribution Alan has made in bringing Edinburgh to a major cup final and improving its league position
Unable to fully stamp his authority on the club in his first season in charge after missing pre-season, the former South Africa assistant and Ulster and Southern Kings head coach also had to negotiate a sizable injury list in his second season, compounded in October when Edinburgh lost five players in a win over Lyon in the Challenge Cup a week after losing influential back-row forward Cornell du Preez to a serious leg injury.
Despite the loss for much of the season of experienced campaigners Grant Gilchrist, David Denton and Matt Scott, Edinburgh’s blend of overseas players, including former Super Rugby players Phil Burleigh and Anton Bresler, and Scottish talent bounced back to stun rivals Glasgow Warriors in January landing them the 1872 Cup for the first time since 2009, before becoming the first Scottish side to reach a European final in April after knock-out wins over London Irish and Newport Gwent Dragons before losing to Gloucester 19-13 at the Twickenham Stoop earlier this month.
And Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson paid tribute to Solomons for his efforts in rebuilding the club.
“Everyone at Scottish Rugby acknowledges the contribution Alan has made in bringing Edinburgh to a major cup final and improving its league position,” Dodson said.
“From the outset we set him the task of rebuilding the club, with Scottish players at its core and to develop young talent.
“This is now generating the results we hoped for and I am delighted he will continue his progress at Edinburgh Rugby.”