No-nonsense approach expected from new Edinburgh coach Cockerill

Richard Cockerill is known to build his teams around power forwards
Richard Cockerill is known to build his teams around power forwards
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Richard Cockerill will aim to bring a hard edge to Edinburgh Rugby when he joins the club in the summer as head coach, but the players will have to step up to the mark to help the club move forward.

Englishman Cockerill, 46, will be in charge of the Capital outfit for at least the next two seasons.

Cockerill, who won 27 caps for England at hooker in his playing days, is currently with French side Toulon after this season leaving Leicester Tigers, whom he lead to three English Premiership titles in his time in charge.

Current acting head coach Duncan Hodge will revert back to being backs coach while fellow coaches Steve Scott and Pete Wilkins will also stay with the Guinness PRO12 outfit.

Colin Gregor, the former Scotland Sevens and Scotland ‘A’ cap, was co-commentating for BBC ALBA during Edinburgh’s 39-10 loss to Leinster in the league on Friday night.

It was Edinburgh’s sixth defeat in seven PRO12 outings and left them ninth in the table ahead of Friday’s match with Cardiff Blues at Myreside.

And Gregor, 35, said: “In the last three matches against Munster, Ulster and Leinster, Edinburgh have played some good rugby in patches, but then switched off and let the opposition get the upper hand.

“They went in at the break 8-3 down against Leinster in Dublin and were still in the game, but they capitulated in the second half and the powers that be at Scottish Rugby will be hoping that Cockerill will be able to make the side more consistent.

“There is no doubt that he comes with a good pedigree and everyone knows his reputation is of someone with a hard edge who makes his sides hard to beat.

“We keep hearing from within the camp that this squad is good enough to compete in the higher reaches of the PRO12 going forward and now it up to the players to really hit the ground running from Cockerill’s first training session in pre-season.

“He will have new ideas about how he wants the team to play, but I feel the players have to show the pride they have in representing Edinburgh.”

Gregor mentions the style of play Cockerill’s team will adopt and many pundits believe he will focus on forward power first.

Many feel that is a step back to the Alan Solomons way of thinking and supporters want to see a more expansive game plan, but Gregor believes the new man will need time to put his stamp on the team.

“Traditionally Cockerill’s teams have focused on set-piece and winning the battle up front and I think when he arrives in post he will find a good set of forwards already at the club,” Gregor said.

“It is the Edinburgh backline that really needs to click into gear and hopefully Duncan Hodge can get them playing with a bit more freedom when he reverts back to the backs coach role.

“I feel pretty sorry for Duncan because he was given a team full of someone else’s players midway through this season.

“For whatever reason things have not quite worked out for him as he would have liked as acting head coach, but whenever you hear the backs talk they praise him so hopefully that unit can come good.”

Cockerill said: “I am very much looking forward to a new challenge and the opportunity at Edinburgh Rugby ticked all the boxes. It’s a real rugby city, and the club has a lot of potential to grow on, and off, the pitch.

“The conversations I had with [chief exec] Mark Dodson and Scott Johnson [director of rugby] were instrumental in understanding what the vision for Edinburgh Rugby is. I’m also relishing the chance of coaching in the Guinness PRO12, which is a new league for me, and working with a clearly talented group of players.”

RICHARD COCKERILL FACTFILE

• Born December 16, 1970 in Rugby

• Became known as one of the Leicester Tigers ‘ABC club’ with Graham Rowntree and Darren Garforth

• The hooker also played club rugby in France for Montferrand

• Made his England debut in 1997 against Argentina

• Appointed Leicester Tigers forwards coach in 2005

• After a couple of spells as acting head coach, named Tigers head coach in 2009

• Became director of rugby at the Tigers in 2010

• Won the Premiership with the Tigers in 2009, 2010 and 2013

• In early January this year he parted company with the Tigers, taking on a role at Toulon