Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said he had no choice but to strip Magnus Bradbury of the club captaincy after discovering the 22-year-old was inebriated, unconscious and in need of ambulance attention during a night out in the city.
The back-row forward has been excluded from the club since the incident earlier in the month, which left him injured and unable to play in the side’s European Challenge Cup win at London Irish on October 14.
“Magnus was under the influence of alcohol which is inappropriate and unfortunately for him he fell over and knocked himself out. I don’t think it is the right image for any of our players to portray,” said Cockerill. Being inebriated lying on the floor in the centre of town with an ambulance next to you is not a picture we want to portray. He has been sanctioned and accepted the consequences and we move on.”
Cockerill has since been hit by another disciplinary situation after openside flanker John Hardie was suspended from Edinburgh and Scotland duty on Friday but he would not comment much on that separate internal investigation.
“I’m not allowed to comment on that,” he said. “I have a view on it but, at this point, it’s not appropriate that I talk about it, unfortunately. I’d like all the players to be available to play, but that’s not how it is.”
Cockerill insisted he doesn’t regret giving youth a chance with his captaincy choice at the start of the season. “It was the right choice but I have to deal with what is put in front of me as it appears. I have to try and build a strong culture. There is a perception that the culture is loose. Well, I have to tighten that. If our captain behaves like that there are consequences.”
Cockerill admitted it had been a frustrating couple of weeks but insisted his main focus was on preparing the side for this weekend’s trip to Italy to face Benetton, a side which beat them at home a few weeks ago.
“Look, of course it’s a distraction, because we’ve got two of our guys unavailable to play,” said the coach, who has guided his side to three wins in a row culminating in a 74-13 rout of Krasny Yar on Saturday. “We’d all like them to be available to play but they’re not. That’s going to be a distraction in itself, but guys have stepped up.”
Cockerill has made 29-year-old lock Fraser McKenzie the new club captain and said: “He is a strong character who speaks well and is very commited to the club. He gives us a voice that may lead the team better on and off the field. I would rather have not been in this position, but it is right for Fraser to take over.