Two years ago, Edinburgh became the first European team to win in the URC in South Africa. 

That day, they got one over Sean Everitt's Sharks side and they will return to Durban with the South African now aiming to mastermind his former team's downfall while also keeping Edinburgh in the play-off hunt. 

Our stats expert Kevin Millar takes a look at some of the key numbers ahead of a crucial clash. 

  • Edinburgh return to Kings Park nearly two years to the day from becoming the first Northern Hemisphere side to win a URC match in South Africa, a 21 – 5 triumph over the Sharks on a dreich afternoon in Durban.
  • The lineups look very different though, with just three returning starters for the capital club (Ben Vellacott, Jamie Hodgson and Hamish Watson) and four for the home side (Werner Kok, Makazole Mapimpi, Ox Nche and Bongi Mbonambi). In all, the turnover in the matchday squads means that 28 out of the 46 players from that previous encounter are not involved this time.
  • There are just the 12 World Cup winners' medals in the Sharks’ lineup. Lukhanyo Am, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Makazole Mapimpi and Bongi Mbonambi have two each while Jaden Hendrikse and Ox Nche were both part of the 2023 success.
  • Edinburgh do boast more capped internationals in their 23 though, with 15 to the Sharks’ 11. The visitors have named an all-international starting pack with a combined tally of 275 Test caps.
  • Eleven of the Sharks’ starters began their careers with other South African sides, including four men who played in the PRO14 for the teams that blazed a trail into Northern Hemisphere competition, the Cheetahs and Southern Kings.

The teams

Scotland Rugby News:

(players in CAPITALS are fully capped internationals, numbers in brackets are previous appearances for Sharks / Edinburgh)

Head to Head

Scotland Rugby News:

Edinburgh Introductions

  • Chris Dean is Edinburgh’s most experienced back, but this will be his first start in the centres for nearly five months and just his second in midfield in the last 457 days.

Matchday Milestones

  • When he is sprung from the bench, James Lang will reach a half-century of appearances for Edinburgh, three seasons on from his move north from Harlequins.

Focal Point

This will almost certainly be the biggest challenge they have faced all season, with a trio of Rugby World Cup winners in direct opposition but Edinburgh’s front row has been a significant factor in their successes so far this season. If they are to pull off an upset, will need to have a huge game at Kings Park.

Scotland Rugby News: South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi is in the Sharks sideSouth Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi is in the Sharks side (Image: SNS)

While they may not boast a scorer with the prolific nature of Johnny Matthews, the capital club’s front rowers have notched nearly as many tries as their Glasgow counterparts (14 vs 16).

Eight different big men have crossed the whitewash, including all seven who have started at prop or hooker this season, plus Paddy Harrison (who has only needed 38 minutes from the bench to get on the scoreboard).

While tries may not be a typical method of measuring front-row impact, in many ways they are a strong indicator of how effective teams are at finishing from close range.

The Warriors have, generally speaking, relied on an overpowering maul, while Edinburgh have been more efficient at getting over from multi-phase plays from less than 5m out. 

Current form

Scotland Rugby News:

Edinburgh away to South African sides in the regular season during the PRO14/URC era:

  • Two wins
  • Six losses
  • Two Try BPs
  • Three Losing BPs
  • 13 points out of a possible 40 (32%)

Edinburgh also lost a URC playoff match away to Stormers during the 2021/22 season

Previous match-up vs Sharks in South Africa 


Referee: Eoghan Cross (IRFU, 15th league game)

AR1: Cwengile Jadezweni (SARU); AR2: Jonothan Lottering (SARU); TMO: Marc Patton (IRFU)

Cross’ regular season record for 2023/24:

  • Matches – Nine
  • Average penalty count – 20.5 per game
  • Home side penalties conceded percentage – 45.7%
  • Average card count – 1.2 per game
  • Penalties per card – 16.4

Irish referee Cross refereed Edinburgh's season opener, against the Dragons in Newport, where an 18-9 penalty count in favour of the capital club was a factor in a narrow away win. 

The whistler is one of the least experienced Irish officials in the league, although he has already taken charge of two previous matches in South Africa so should be prepared for any differences in climate and conditions.