Van Der Merwe Relishing the Idea of His Second 1872 Cup Campaign
Edinburgh winger Duhan Van Der Merwe met with media earlier this week at BT Murrayfield, where he discussed the experience of his first 1872 Cup games last season, how the two teams may match up, and Edinburgh’s developing form.
Van Der Merwe in training as Edinburgh prepare to take on Glasgow Warriors. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
The atmosphere created by the 1872 Cup rivalry
It was just last year that South African born winger Duhan Van Der Merwe was first exposed to the intense rivalry between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors when the two teams meet to vie for the 1872 Cup.
Speaking about his first experience of the competition, Van Der Merwe said: “It was quite nice. The boys were chatting about the rivalry and saying wait till the Glasgow game, wait till the Glasgow game. What is that all about?”
He continued: “In the build-up to the Glasgow game that week I saw our boys getting hyped up for this game. In the game, you could see the boys wanting to go at each other. There are only two teams and you want to prove yourself. It is him or you for the Scotland jersey. The boys really get up for it and I like it. I am just focused on performing for Edinburgh.”
With the combative nature of the encounter well-documented, Van Der Merwe discussed whether he thought discipline may be an issue this year – after all, last year Edinburgh played the majority of the game with just 14 men after prop Simon Berghan was shown a red card.
The winger doesn’t have any concerns about discipline, however, saying: “Not really as we don’t get red cards. Beating Glasgow at home with 14 men for almost the whole game after getting a red card so early in the game shows the character that we as a team have got. We will go into this weekend and enjoy it and play for each other.”
Despite the added pressure of being a man down, Edinburgh overcame the challenge of Glasgow at BT Murrayfield last year, and when asked if he thought that win sparked a fire amongst the capital side’s players, Van Der Merwe replied: “Yeah, they were top of their log and on paper some people would have said they looked the better side.
“It was a massive confidence booster for us and [after Glasgow] getting the win at Scotstoun, it came down to the win here at Murrayfield and we managed to beat them. As a player, I was so excited at that win as I knew what it meant for the boys.”
Strength of the Edinburgh backline
It has been well documented recently that when the internationals were away playing in the autumn tests, Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill faced a trying period of having to play a much younger, less experienced team. Meanwhile Glasgow utilized a squad which apparently had greater depth.
However, with the Edinburgh backline reinvigorated by the internationals once again, Van Der Merwe is relishing the opportunity for the backs to make their mark on the Glasgow matches.
He admitted: “I am looking to get the ball early enough in my hands so I can work with it in space or one on one with some guy. If you think of guys like Darcy [Graham] and Blair [Kinghorn] and Dougie [Fife] – if you give them one on one they are potent. So, we have been working hard to get us wingers and Blair the ball early in their hands.”
The opportunity to show some flair has dimmed slightly this year, as teams are becoming more familiar with the scintillating winger, and he himself acknowledged this fact, saying: “I also have to find other ways to score tries as people will probably say he is a strong guy and maybe put two guys on him, whatever. I need to find ways to get my hands on the ball and then do what I can do.”
All in all, Van Der Merwe is ready for the encounter, and believes that the pendulum of dominance could very well be starting to move in Edinburgh’s direction: “Definitely. We have a very strong team. They have their strengths and we as Edinburgh have our strengths too. You could say they have more depth but we are being well managed so it will be a massive battle this weekend.”
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors kicks off at 5:15pm this Saturday at BT Murrayfield.