Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has called on the Capital’s rugby public to come out in force for their pro team’s biggest match in years at BT Murrayfield tonight.
They face French giants Montpellier knowing that a win would see them finish top of Heineken Champions Cup Pool 5 and secure a home quarter-final in Europe’s elite club competition.
Ticket sales have passed 9000 already meaning it will be the biggest crowd for a European pool-stage match in Scotland. Edinburgh played in front of 38,000 in their quarter-final appearance in 2012 against Touluse and more than 8000 for their Challenge Cup quarter-final against Dragons in 2015 but tonight is set to be the biggest home crowd, outside of 1872 Cup clashes with Glasgow, in years as former Scotland coach Vern Cotter brings his star-studded team in the hope of pipping the Scots to top spot.
“We’ve got a team that is worth supporting,” said Cockerill after naming an unchanged starting side and bench from last Saturday’s historic 28-17 win at Toulon.
“When I arrived I said I wasn’t surprised that people didn’t come and watch because we weren’t a very good team. Now, we are a good team, we’re doing some good things and I’d really like as many people as possible to come and support their city team because the lads are doing the job.
“They are a team to be proud of, a team to come and watch, a team to be associated with because of what they’re doing.”
Cockerill admitted that he sensed more of a buzz this week then he has since taking over at Edinburgh in the summer of 2017 and setting about transforming the fortunes of a team which had been languishing in malaise for a decade.
“More than normal,” said the former England hooker. “There have been people coming up and saying ‘well done on Saturday and good luck on Friday’, which is unusual.
“There is a lot of rugby support in the city. They want to support a winning team and we are getting that. The supporters are just a little bit quieter than others and I’m learning that it’s different here from Leicester and Toulon or other places.
“We have to be very good and make sure we get everything right. If we do that then supporters will come and watch, and hopefully come back.”