Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has turned up the heat ahead of Saturday evening’s 1872 Cup decider by declaring that the days of Glasgow Warriors being the darlings of Scottish rugby are over.
The Englishman has presided over Edinburgh’s best season in a decade and his side go into the weekend’s inter-city showdown at BT Murrayfield knowing that a single point will be enough to secure a place in the Guinness Pro14 play-offs and a return to the elite European Champions Cup next season.
Those twin objectives may already be in the bag if Ulster fail to achieve a bonus-point win at Munster earlier in the day but, even if that is the case, Cockerill wants to see his men strike another blow against their Scottish rivals, take the 1872 Cup and send the message that Edinburgh’s tanks are firmly on Glasgow’s lawn.
“That gap between Glasgow and Edinburgh is closing all the time,” said Cockerill. “The days of them being so dominant, and getting all the best players, and being the favoured son – those days are over. We’re catching them quickly and we want to get this rivalry as tight and as sharp as ever.”
Edinburgh have been firmly in Glasgow’s shadow for some time now as the Warriors have thrived at Scotstoun, won a historic Pro12 title in 2015 and made inroads into the knockout stages of the Champions Cup.
In contrast, Edinburgh have been in a malaise on and off the pitch as they have struggled to find consistency, identity and a suitable home.
Cockerill has made an immediate impact in his first season and has taken his team to third place in Conference B and on the verge of sealing a quarter-final trip to face Munster.
Glasgow have cruised to top spot in Conference A and secured a home semi-final but the former Leicester and Toulon coach, who extended his two-year deal by a further year last week, has warned that Edinburgh are gunning for that top-dog status.
“When I came here it was about getting the best out of this group. Now that we slowly are, we’ve recruited well for next year and need to go again,” said the ex-England hooker.
“I want Edinburgh to be a strong model so if there are players coming back to the country, young players coming through, project players arriving here, I want them to be wanting to choose Edinburgh over Glasgow.
“It’s the capital city. It’s a great place to live and we want to offer the best rugby team and the best environment to develop. Why should I not be bullish about that? Because if I won’t no-one else will.
“That’s where we want to be. I’m not going to be shrinking violet. We want to be getting the best players, the best young Scottish players wanting to be here. Historically we haven’t attracted them or we haven’t wanted them. Which is not right. I’m here to drive Edinburgh forward and makes us as strong as possible.”
Glasgow could have done Edinburgh a favour last weekend but lost 36-15 to Ulster, with the Irish province’s bonus point keeping their slim hopes of pipping Edinburgh to the top three alive.
“It just means that we have to go and bash them [Glasgow] doubly hard this week because there’s more on the game,” was Cockerill’s response.
“We’ll know what we need to do by the time we kick off because of the way the day is formatted, so our destiny is in our own hands. I don’t want to rely on anybody doing us a favour.”