We Need To Talk About: Recruitment

This summer has heard a consistent refrain from Glasgow fans – “where are the signings?” This time last summer though it was the Edinburgh fans casting envious glances along the M8*. So what is going on and should fans be worried / irate? Allow On Top Of The Moon to use the power of the Depth Chart to illustrate each club’s recruitment policies.

Both teams are working on 2-3 year cycles for player movements. As a rough guide Edinburgh have larger numbers coming off contract in even-numbered years whereas for Glasgow it’s odd-numbered years that have a lot of activity in terms of renewals and departures. This is partly because much of the work for both teams is done by SRU personnel so they need to stagger contracts and doing it this way means each team gets a little more focus in alternate years.

Looking at the pro teams’ new signings over the past 2 years things are reasonably balanced. Here are the Depth Charts as they stand with only the players who have arrived this season or last shown:


That’s 23 players in total with 12 of them among the top two XVs.


Edinburgh have added 27 in total with 13 jumping into the 1st or 2nd XV.

In terms of where the two teams’ signings have come from, both have made 12 from the top leagues in the northern and southern hemispheres. Edinburgh’s extra 4 bodies have come from 2 additional Academy recruits and other sources such as Scotland 7s and Castleford in Rugby League.


In terms of total squad size Glasgow have 48 full-time pros on their books plus one player on a Partnership Contract (Tom Gordon from Currie). Edinburgh have 46 signed up (not including Al Dickinson who is contracted for next season but whose long-term future in rugby is still to be confirmed).

This has been a far quieter year for Glasgow but that’s because last year’s departures totalled 18. This year only 7 players moved on.

  • Ryan Grant (4th choice LH) – no direct replacement yet
  • Pat MacArthur (3rd choice hooker) – replaced by Kevin Bryce (in the short-term at least)
  • Samuela Vunisa (3rd choice number 8) – David Tameilau
  • Henry Pyrgos (2nd/3rd choice scrum half) – Nick Frisby
  • Finn Russell (1st choice 10) – last season the Warriors recruited Adam Hastings, Ruaridh Jackson and Brandon Thomson in anticipation of Finn moving on.
  • Richie Vernon (4th choice outside centre) – no direct replacement yet. Will likely be Stafford McDowall when he moves up from the Academy onto a full-time contract.
  • Leonardo Sarto (1st choice wing) – DTH van der Merwe

Over at Edinburgh this off-season has provided Richard Cockerill with his first real chance to reshape his squad the way he wants it. Before the start of 2017/18 only 8 players moved on. Since the start of that last campaign Cockers has managed to shift another 17 members of his squad and bring in replacements who will be expected to bring the style of play he wants to Edinburgh.

Ultimately Glasgow and Edinburgh are at very different stages of their recruitment cycles. The Warriors have a mature squad that needs some cohesion and time to settle. The east coasters are still at the revolution rather than evolution stage and many of their changes are more transformative (and risky!) particularly in their backline which will be unrecognisable from the start of last season.

Both teams need to recruit cleverly and get more bang for their buck than sides with bigger budgets to splash around. It’s only when real action out on the pitch starts in 6 weeks or so that it will start to become clear how effective their recruitment policies have been.

* Edinburgh people have really, really good eyesight.

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