Duncan Hodge disappointed not to land Edinburgh head coach role

Hodge's hopes of becoming head coach were blighted by his team's inconsistency
Hodge's hopes of becoming head coach were blighted by his team's inconsistency
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Duncan Hodge admits he is disappointed not to have secured the Edinburgh Rugby head coaching post on a full-time basis, but he has promised to give the incoming Richard Cockerill his full support.

Last weekend, just after he had watched his side being thumped by Leinster on Friday night, Hodge was informed by the decision makers at Scottish Rugby that the former Leicester Tigers man would be joining the club as head coach this summer on a two-year deal.

The news came as a blow to Hodge who has been in position as acting head coach since the end of September when Alan Solomons left.

Cockerill’s name had been mooted by many in rugby for a few weeks, but with Hodge claiming not to be “a social media hound” the first he heard about it officially was from the powers that be was after the 
39-10 defeat in Dublin.

“[The news that Cockerill had been appointed] was the news that we were given over the weekend and we have to get on with it and focus on the match against Cardiff and the rest of the season,” the 42-year-old, who is set to be backs’ coach under Cockerill, stated.

“Then everyone else heard the news on Monday and it was a bit of a tricky few days, but there you go.

“Yes [I was disappointed not to get the job], I mean it is something I would love to do and people know that so I am disappointed, but that is life and that is pro sport.

“In due course I will be speaking to the powers that be to sort out how things will work going forward.

“I had a brief conversation with Richard on Tuesday night and he was just phoning me to touch base. It was just a five minute phone call, but I am sure we will talk more in the coming weeks.

“He has been hugely successful down at Leicester and built up a good reputation and he is obviously an experienced head coach.

“It is difficult to always know what someone is like until you coach with them and I look forward to meeting him.

“I think it is a good move for Edinburgh and I am sure he will have a point to prove. He is an experienced man and he will know what he wants to achieve.”

Hodge’s audition for the top job started pretty well, but inconsistency has blighted the team of late.

After a defeat at Connacht in his first game at the helm, Hodge’s side then won four of their next five outings including cracking victories over Harlequins and Ulster in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and Guinness PRO12 respectively.

Some other notable showings have come since then – such as the European victories over Stade Francais and Harlequins to secure a quarter-final place - but is the league that has been most concerning.

In 11 league matches since Hodge took over the team have won three and lost eight to leave them in ninth place and some 29 points away from the top four play-offs.

Before the big Challenge Cup quarter-final with La Rochelle at the end of March, Edinburgh have three league matches to play starting tonight against seventh placed Cardiff Blues at Myreside (7.05pm).

And Hodge does not believe the prospect of Cockerill arriving in a few months will see the players lose focus for the rest of this campaign.

“I don’t think it will be tough for them to focus. We have a job to do and the players have a lot of pride in what they do,” he said.

“Next season will happen when it happens, but now we have games to play and we want to finish as high up the table as we can and they must take some responsibility.”

For the match Blair Kinghorn, Rory Scholes and Jason Tovey come into the backline with the pack unchanged.

Edinburgh team: 15. Blair Kinghorn; 14. Damien Hoyland, 13. Glenn Bryce, 12. Chris Dean, 11. Rory Scholes; 10. Jason Tovey, 9. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1. Jack Cosgrove, 2. Neil Cochrane (C), 3. Murray McCallum; 4. Fraser McKenzie, 5. Ben Toolis; 6. Magnus Bradbury, 7. Jamie Ritchie, 8. Cornell Du Preez. Subs: 16. George Turner, 17. Derrick Appiah, 18. Kevin Bryce, 19. Grant Gilchrist, 20. Lewis Carmichael, 21. Nathan Fowles, 22. Junior Rasolea, 23. Michael Allen.