KO 8.00 at Scottish Gas Murrayfield
Saturday 6th April 2024

Live on Viaplay Sports 1

  • Bayonne haven't won an away fixture in European competition since they beat Viadana 80 – 19 in December 2013.
  • Giving an indication of where their priorities lie, the visitors have made 13 changes to the starting XV that faced Toulon last week. All eight of the capped Tier 1 internationals who featured in that Top 14 game are rested this time round – Facundo Bosch, Arthur Iturria, Lucas Paulos, Uzair Cassiem, Camille Lopez, Federico Mori, Mateo Carreras and Maxime Machenaud.
  • 38 of the 40 starting forwards selected by Edinburgh in this season’s Challenge Cup have been full internationals. Robin Hislop and Luan de Bruin’s appearances at loosehead are the only ones by an uncapped player.
  • Edinburgh have named the oldest XV for any of their games so far this season. The pack alone have an average age of over 31, with Ewan Ashman (24) and Jamie Ritchie (27) the only starting forwards under the age of 29.
  • At 910kgs, this is the heaviest starting pack selected by Edinburgh for any match this season.


Scotland Rugby News: Head to Head:

Scotland Rugby News:

Edinburgh Introductions:

Loosehead prop, Mikey Jones, has had to be patient waiting to make his first Edinburgh appearance. He was a Stage 3 Academy player all through seasons 2021/22 and 2022/23 and has been a full-time pro since the start of the current campaign. Injuries to Pierre Schoeman, Boan Venter and Robin Hislop have provided the opportunity, now it’s up to the young prop to seize his chance if he gets a debut from the bench on Saturday evening.

Luan de Bruin will make his first start for 352 days. The South African prop has only played 30 minutes for Edinburgh this season following a long term injury. This will be the first time he has ever started at loosehead for Edinburgh, and his first start in this position for nearly three years – since he played there for Leicester against Montpellier in May 2021.

Matchday Milestones:

Hamish Watson will make his 30th Challenge Cup appearance, extending the club record that he holds ahead of WP Nel (28), Grant Gilchrist (27), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (26) and Ben Toolis (24).

Focal Point:

Injuries have prevented Edinburgh starting their first choice back 3 of Emiliano Boffelli, Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe in any game this season. With the latter of that trio the only one available for this fixture, it’s incumbent on the giant winger to lead from the front and help drive the capital club’s attacking game forward.

Van der Merwe’s return for a second spell in Edinburgh has, so far, arguably brought greater benefit to the national side than his club, with more minutes played for Scotland (1,573 v 1,348) and a superior scoring rate (a try every 112 minutes on average v 193 minutes) during this period.

Wingers are nearly always only as good as the performance of the rest of the team, and there’s no question that this isn’t just an issue to lay on Duhan. The game against Bayonne though, is the kind of encounter where he should be able to use his imposing brand of pace and power to have a key influence on the outcome.

If he’s on the shoulder of Ben Vellacott and Ben Healy and close to the action on a regular basis that will be a sign of an engaged and hungry van der Merwe looking for work.

With nine tries to his name in this competition, Duhan is level with Blair Kinghorn as Edinburgh’s top scorer in the Challenge Cup and this game could present the chance to move out on his own with a five-pointer (or two, or three...) against Bayonne.

Current form:

Scotland Rugby News:

Edinburgh at home to French sides since 2008:

  • 19 wins
  • 1 draw
  • 3 losses

Edinburgh’s home record against French teams has been extremely good. Since 2012, La Rochelle (twice) are the only Top 14 side to leave the capital with a victory.

Across the last 16 years there have been wins for Edinburgh against:

Agen (2), Bordeaux, Brive, Castres (4), Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Pau, Perpignan, Racing 92, Stade Francais (3), Toulon and Toulouse.

Previous match-up versus a Top 14 side at home:


Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)
AR1: Peter Martin (IRFU)
AR2: Paul Haycock (IRFU)
TMO: Mark Patton (IRFU)

Mr Busby’s regular season record for 2023/24:

  • Matches – 13
  • Average penalty count – 21.1 per game
  • Home side penalties conceded percentage – 45.8%
  • Average card count – 1.2 per game
  • Penalties per card – 17.2

This is the eighth match that Edinburgh have played at Hive Stadium this season. 50% of those games have been refereed by Mr Busby, which does feel a little like those in charge of allocating officials are trying to make a point. Repetition is of course one of the key weapons in the dad joke arsenal...

From a practical perspective this should definitely be an advantage to the home side, especially given the Irish whistler has never before taken charge of a match involving Bayonne.

The penalty tallies in Mr Busby’s previous trips to the Hive have been a mixed bag for Edinburgh though, with 11 – 10 and 13 – 11 against them versus the Lions and Bulls respectively before a 9 – 15 count in what should really have been a more convincing win at home to Ospreys.

Additional ref stats from: https://www.cardiffrfcfans.com/analysis/referee_heads.php?countryID=3