Need to Know: Edinburgh v Montpellier, Champions Cup match preview 2018/19

KO 7.45 at BT Murrayfield
Friday 18th January 2019
Buy tickets here
Live on BT Sport 3

Champions Cup stats:

  • The home side have a pretty sensational record against French clubs at Murrayfield. Over the last decade Edinburgh have taken on French opposition 14 times in European pool stages and won 13 of those matches.
  • Montpellier have tended not to travel well in the Champions Cup. Their only win in their last 13 away matches in the tournament came last season when Glasgow’s indiscipline let the French side of the hook at Scotstoun.
  • There are 15 South African born players on show across the two teams’ squads on Friday. The Republic continues to make a massive contribution to world rugby!
  • Edinburgh are going for their 5th consecutive win in the Champions Cup. This would match their longest ever streak in the tournament, achieved in the 2003/04 season.
  • If Edinburgh win they will host one of the Champions Cup quarter finals. That result will also secure Glasgow’s place in the knockout stages (while maintaining the chances of an all-Scottish semi-final…)

15 Blair Kinghorn
14 Darcy Graham
13 James Johnstone
12 Chris Dean
11 Duhan van der Merwe
10 Jaco van der Walt
9 Henry Pyrgos
ADV Edinburgh
ADV Montpellier
ADV Montpellier
ADV Montpellier
15 Frans Steyn
14 Timoci Nagusa
13 Arthur Vincent
12 Jan Serfontein
11 Henry Immelman
10 Johan Goosen
9 Ruan Pienaar

1 Pierre Schoeman
2 Stuart McInally (c)
3 WP Nel
4 Ben Toolis
5 Grant Gilchrist
6 Jamie Ritchie
7 Hamish Watson
8 Viliame Mata
ADV Edinburgh
ADV Edinburgh
ADV Edinburgh
ADV Montpellier
ADV Edinburgh

1 Gregory Fichten
2 Bismarck Du Plessis
3 Jannie Du Plessis
4 Nico Janse van Rensburg
5 Jacques Du Plessis
6 Fulgence Ouedraogo
7 Yacouba Camara
8 Louis Picamoles (c)

16 David Cherry
17 Allan Dell
18 Simon Berghan
19 Fraser McKenzie
20 Luke Crosbie
21 Nathan Fowles
22 Simon Hickey
23 Juan Pablo Socino
ADV Montpellier
ADV Edinburgh
ADV Montpellier
ADV Montpellier
ADV Montpellier
ADV Montpellier

16 Vincent Giudicelli
17 Usha Tcheishvili
18 Levan Chilachava
23 Paul Willemse
19 Kelian Galletier
21 Benoit Paillaugue
20 Yvan Reilhac
22 Vincent Martin

Starting XV stats:

11 Champions Cup tries 33
63 Champions Cup appearances 138
25.0 Average age 27.6
3 Capped players 5

897kg Pack weight 895kg
574kg Tight 5 weight 586kg
82 Champions Cup appearances 139
27.3 Average age 30.00
7 Capped players 5

Changes from Round 1:

Edinburgh go with 16 of the 23 who played in the club’s opening Champions Cup fixture of the season at the GGL Stadium. Magnus Bradbury and Matt Scott are losses from the starting XV that day but Jamie Ritchie and Chris Dean’s form has been such that these are not significant changes.

Elsewhere Pierre Schoeman and Duhan van der Merwe’s availability (after suspension and injury respectively) and Jaco van der Walt’s intelligent play winning him the 10 shirt mean the home side should be stronger for this second meeting with Montpellier.

Consistency of selection has been one of the keys for Richard Cockerill in the Champions Cup – 15 of the 23 have played in every round of this season’s tournament.

The visitors have made a couple more changes with 14 out of their 23 from Round 1 returning. Their backline is dramatically different with only Jan Serfontein in the same position. South African internationals Frans Steyn and Johan Goosen will make an impact. Goosen’s presence also allows Ruaan Pienaar to move in one to his best position at scrum half.

In the pack Yacouba Camara adds power to the back row. There’s just a hint that Montpellier’s depth at loosehead prop is being tested though. With WP Nel getting closer and closer to top form can he help the Edinburgh scrum take advantage?

Edinburgh Introductions:

It’s worth noting that 17 of the Edinburgh 23 had never played a Champions Cup match in their careers before this season. Four years of Challenge Cup action would only have given a hint of what was to come but they’ve adapted to the increase in intensity in Europe’s premier club tournament with ease.

Matchday Milestones:

No significant numbers in terms of appearances but Friday will also be Blair Kinghorn’s 22nd birthday. The young full back will celebrate by playing his 77th(!) game for Edinburgh. If he sticks around he could set all kinds of records in the coming years.

Edinburgher to Eyeball:

Four years ago he was uncapped and still to start a match at hooker for Edinburgh. 18 months ago he missed out on selection for Scotland’s summer tour squad. Since then Stuart McInally has entered a purple patch that must have surpassed anything he might have hoped for when making the switch from the back row to the front row. Rambo is now captain of Edinburgh (and was Scotland’s squad captain for their most recent summer tour) and a central figure for both club and country.

Like the very best hookers and flankers in the modern game Stuart is an all-round threat. There’s no opportunity for these guys to specialise or concentrate on one area of their game to the detriment of another. Carrying, tackling, clearing out, jackalling – Stuart will get it all done as effectively as anyone on the pitch. Then he’ll get his head down and nail his setpiece work as well.

That broad skillset has helped him become a big time contributor to Edinburgh’s attacking game. In fact his 2 scores earlier in the season mean that Stuart is now the club’s equal top try scorer (with 10) in European competition – level with the stylistically contrasting play of Tim Visser.

Stuart will be to the forefront of Edinburgh’s efforts on Friday night and the whole of the Scottish rugby community will be hoping he can lead his side to victory.

Edinburgh’s Track Record…

…at home against French sides in European pool stages across the last 10 years:

  • 13 wins
  • 1 loss

Agen, Bordeaux, Castres (twice), Grenoble, Lyon, Perpignan, Racing 92, Stade Francais (three times), Toulon and Toulouse have all been vanquished in the capital. Racing 92 were the only team to come away with a win during this period.

Most recent meeting in Europe:

Key stats from that game:

Percent possession for Edinburgh. This has been a bit of a recurring theme in Montpellier’s European games with their opponents dominating time on the ball and the French side soaking up pressure. Edinburgh will need to be clinical with any possession they do have as the visitors tend to make the most of their own, more limited, opportunities.
Metres gained from kicks by Montpellier – over 200m more than Edinburgh. Vern Cotter’s side won 882m of territory in their win over Newcastle and 1,247m when they beat Toulon! They will look to grab good field position with the boot before they attack. Edinburgh’s own kicking and counter-attacking game will need to be on point to counter the French side.
Rucks lost by Montpellier. Less possession means less chances to lose the ball but even so the side drilled by Richie Gray (no not that one, the other one) are incredibly efficient at the breakdown. Across their 3 victories in this season’s Champions Cup they have only lost 2 rucks while at the same time pilfering 18 from their opponents. Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie in particular will have a huge role to play in protecting Edinburgh’s ball and stealing some of Montpellier’s in order to balance out this area of the game.


Referee: JP Doyle (Eng)
AR1: Anthony Woodthorpe (Eng)
AR2: Peter Allan (Eng)
TMO: Graham Hughes (Eng)

Mr. Doyle is back in Scotland for the second week running after taking charge of Glasgow’s win over Cardiff Blues in Round 5. The English official demonstrated a couple of notable tendencies that Edinburgh should be aware of. He was very quick to call use it if the scrum didn’t immediately start moving forward making it difficult to press home an advantage in this area. He was also remarkably tolerant about persistent infringements by the defending side in their own 22.

That latter habit is borne out by his games in the Gallagher Premiership this season where he hands out a third more penalties between cards compared to the league average. Edinburgh shouldn’t expect too many favours in the Montpellier red zone. Although equally it may mean a bit more leeway for Richard Cockerill’s men if they are under pressure near their own line…

Additional ref stats from the excellent resources at

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