Size of the heart over the wallet
April 7, 2012
Matt Scott celebrates Edinburgh's triumph © Getty Images
Edinburgh created history by defeating Toulouse to take a place in the Heineken Cup semi-final for the first time in what was a victory for the "size of the heart against the size of the wallet".
Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea coined that phrase when he saw his Aviva Premiership-leading charges overcome the French giants in the pool stages of the prestigious tournament but Edinburgh's win has ramifications both for the side and Scottish rugby in general.
Rugby north of the border has had seldom opportunities to sing recently but on Saturday at Murrayfield - in front of a record crowd 37,881- Michael Bradley's side wrote a new page in Scotland's rugby history. While Edinburgh lit up the earlier stages of the tournament when they defeated Racing Metro in stunning fashion 48-47, that took place in front of just 5,067 people.
However, for Edinburgh to prevail on a much bigger stage in front of a huge crowd, it will go some way to bring back the good-feeling after a woeful wooden spoon-laden Six Nations. And while their international side has laboured in recent times, their club sides have fared little better. Edinburgh are second bottom in the RaboDirect PRO12. Only Aironi are below them and they have just been booted out of the league ahead of next season.
But against Toulouse they were a delightfully united resilient outfit. It was a tactical master class from boss Bradley and his fly-half general Greig Laidlaw. The half-back's accurate kicking, the intensity of the back-row and constant pressure from winger Tim Visser laid the foundations for their memorable win.
And these are sturdy long-term foundations - if they can stave off the lure of the Premiership pound and the Top 14 euro. The side possesses an array of international class in the guise of Ross Rennie, David Denton and Scotland captain Ross Ford, but their budget is miniscule compared to the likes of Toulouse. The French giants were without the likes of Maxime Medard, Clement Poitrenaud and Luke McAlister, but their side was still brimming with internationally proven quality.
Edinburgh have now experienced their greatest moment in the club's professional history. They defeated Toulouse back in the 2003-04 campaign, but this is Europe's biggest stage - the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup. While they continue to toil in the PRO12 then wins such as this will be put into the 'shock results' archive rather than thought of as a well-deserved win. This is an unfair assumption as Edinburgh matched their opponents in every facet of the match and edged the 50-50s on enough occasions to get the victory. But they are some way from taking their place alongside Europe's elite, even though they are in the semi-finals.
Regardless of who wins this tournament now, Edinburgh are the story of this year's competition. This was a side containing stars that were embarrassed by the Italians less than a month ago. But they rallied, prevailed against the odds and Princes Street is going to be in for one hell of a party.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
Firdose Moonda talks to Rob Louw about the difficulties of being a South African touring New Zealand at the height of Apartheid
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games