Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has issued a rallying call to the Capital’s rugby public to come out and support the pro-team as they kick-off a mouth-watering series of home games with a European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues on Saturday evening.
It is the first of four huge matches for the in-form side as they continue their best season in almost a decade, fighting on two fronts. They are aiming for a European semi-final and a play-off place in the Guinness Pro14, which would secure promotion to the Champions Cup next season. After Saturday’s Cardiff clash, Edinburgh face three Pro14 matches at BT Murrayfield with a crunch against Ulster, their nearest challengers for a play-off spot in Conference B, the visit of champions Scarlets and the 1872 Cup decider against Glasgow.
“I really would like the supporters to come and show what Edinburgh means to them,” said Cockerill. “We’ve got this week, we’ve got Ulster, Scarlets and Glasgow, big games.
“We’ve had a tough run-in and so far we’ve done very well. I’d like people to support their team and the boys will put everything on the field for them, and we can start to build this club into what it can be.
“I just hope we get a good support, we’re having a good season and I like people to support their city and their team, because the boys are working very hard to make this thing work,” said Cockerill as he looked ahead to Saturday evening’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues at Murrayfield.
The Myreside experiment failed for a variety of reasons, with Edinburgh tearing up a three-season agreement after just six months, but Cockerill is refusing to let the retreat back to the cavernous national stadium detract from the feelgood factor his players have been generating on the field as they look to stretch a six-match winning streak and clinch a European semi-final.
“The reality is that whether at Myreside or here the crowds stay the same,” said the coach. “We might get a little more here [Murrayfield] than we do at Myreside and I’m still trying to work that out. I’m being kept abreast of [new ground discussions] but my job isn’t about venues it’s about to coach a team.
“I don’t want to get distracted by other things. My job is to get this team winning. If I do that, then it should hopefully take care of itself. But to be fair to this team, we’ve been nomadic for a while so we turn up and play, do what we do, that’s a good mentality and it’s served us well. This stadium’s too big for us, but there’s still no reason we can’t get eight, 10, 12,000 to come and watch us. And then wherever we go next let’s hope we can continue doing that.
“We’ve got a team people can relate to, can support and walk away at the end of games and say, ‘that’s my team and I’m proud of what they’re trying to do’. I hope we start to get more people through the gates.”
It is understood ticket sales are already close to 5,000 for Saturday’s clash with Cardiff,
Cockerill is expecting a tough encounter with the Welsh side. “They’ve been on good form – nearly as good form as us. They’re five from five, we’re six from six, so I think that makes us the form team,” he said.
“We’ve just got to make sure we keep ourselves honest. When you’re winning and you get the rub of the green, which we have on a few occasions in the last five or six weeks, we just need to make sure that doesn’t paper over the cracks of the things we need to improve on.”
Cockerill revealed that Scotland’s most capped player, hooker Ross Ford, is back in full training and available for selection after a long injury lay-off.