Districts in quest for unknown number of qualifying places

THE inter-city encounter between Glasgow and Edinburgh, one of the most venerable continuous fixtures in world rugby, carries a European edge when the two sides meet for the 117th time at Myreside tomorrow.

Since the first meeting in 1872 the rubber currently stands at 59 wins for Edinburgh, 38 to Glasgow, with 19 drawn. Last season the honours, and the inter-city cup, went emphatically east by virtue of a 57-13 victory.

Tomorrow's inter-city, as well as being a component in the inter-district championship - a much more open affair in the regrettable absence of the all-conquering Exiles - doubles as the opening tie in the new European Cup qualifying tournament.

This season Edinburgh, Scottish Borders, and Caledonia Reds flew the saltire in the European Cup while Glasgow, following defeat in a third-place play-off against Caledonia, were relegated to the subsidiary European Con-ference tournament.

The four district outfits involved in this month's qualification process do so on the assumption that three cup places will once again be available to Scotland next season. However, they may be wrong to do so. The districts did not exactly cover themselves in European glory this season and it may well be that Scotland will be allocated just a couple of places in the top tournament next season - added incentive for extra effort over the next couple of weeks.

Edinburgh, Scottish Bor-derers, and Caledonia Reds announced details of their starting line-ups earlier this week. Yesterday, Glasgow made public their selection, which has Stirling County's Kenny Logan at full back as opposed to his international berth on the left wing.

Logan, who made his 1992 Scotland debut in the No.15 shirt as a late replacement for Gavin Hastings in Australia, has never made any secret of the fact that, maybe, full back is his favoured berth, and certainly, when he switched to that role following Rowen Shepherd's injury at Murrayfield last weekend, he did so with some accomplishent. One of his two tries came after he had made the switch.

Glasgow have another Murrayfield try-scorer, Derek Stark, on the right wing and the Glasgow Academical Glenn Metcalfe on the other. They field a strong pack, with the Wallace brothers in the back row and Shade Munro packing down at lock alongside Malcolm Norval of Stirling County.

Two players unavailable to Glasgow through injury were Stirling's Ian Jardine, who is still suffering from the groin injury sustained away back in June against the All Blacks in Auckland, and the young speedster James Craig, who is still sidelined following the concussive injury while playing in the Scotland seven at Dubai last month.

This season's championship will be a test of how far Scotland's professional players have progressed since full-time contracts were issued three months ago.

``It is up to the players to perform to a higher standard,'' said Scott Hastings, the Scotland centre who will captain Edinburgh.

``Europe was a shock to a lot of players,'' added Hastings, who blamed much of his side's poor showing in the Heineken European Cup on ``a lack of preparation.''

Hastings will be one of the players in the Edinburgh side watched closely by the Scotland selectors, who will also scrutinise promising full-back Derrick Lee, stand-off Duncan Hodge, and Derrick Patterson, Scotland's reserve scrum-half against Italy.

The other game, between Caledonia Reds and the Scottish Borderers at Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy, brings together the sides which enjoyed relative ``success'' in Europe this season.

Last season the South defeated North and Midlands 18-12. A year on, for South read Scottish Borders or, even, Border Reivers. North and Midlands have metamorphosed into Caledonia Reds. Dave McIvor and his Reds will be hoping that their change of identity has proved more effective than that of Bryan Redpath and his Reivers.

Glasgow - K Logan (Stirling County); D Stark (Melrose), A Bulloch (West of Scotland), A Garry (Watsonians), G Metcalfe; C MacGregor (both Glasgow Academicals), F Stott (West of Scotland); G McIlwham (GHK), G Bulloch (West of Scotland) captain, B Robertson (Stirling County), S Munro (GHK), M Norval (Stirling County), F Wallace (GHK), D McLeish (West of Scotland), M Wallace (GHK). Replacements - C Sangster (Stirling County), S Begley (Glasgow Academicals), C Little (GHK), G Mackay, A Perrie, D Porte (all Glasgow Academicals).