Blair in frame

Cockerill departs Edinburgh by “mutual consent”

Exit: Richard Cockerill (pic: SNS Group).

Edinburgh Rugby has started the search for a new head coach following the surprise departure of Richard Cockerill.

The former England hooker has left the club “by mutual consent” just 11 months after signing a two-year contract extension until the summer of 2023.

Cockerill, who joined Edinburgh in 2017 and subsequently led them to a first-ever PRO14 play-offs appearance the following year, said he wanted to “pursue other opportunities”.

Former Edinburgh scrum-half Mike Blair is understood to be among the frontrunners to replace the ex-England international.

Edinburgh Rugby managing director, Douglas Struth, said: “I would like to thank Richard for all his hard work and commitment to the club throughout his time at Edinburgh Rugby. We wish him all the very best in his next challenge.”

Under the guidance of 50-year-old Cockerill, Edinburgh won their PRo14 conference in 2020 before losing to Ulster in the play-off semi-final. They also reached the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup in 2019. A disappointing 2020-21 campaign saw them finish fifth in Conference B of the PRO14, winning just six times in 19 matches in all competitions.

“Having had constructive conversations with Jim Mallinder and Mark Dodson post season, it was agreed that we would come to an agreement where I would leave the club by mutual consent to pursue other opportunities,” said Cockerill.

“I would like to thank everyone at Edinburgh Rugby for the hard work they have put in. It has been a rewarding four seasons for the club. I wish the staff and players all the best for the future and look forward to watching you in your new stadium.”

Assistant coach Calum MacRae and head of strength and conditioning Nick Lumley will take the club’s initial pre-season preparations, while the hunt continues for Cockerill’s successor.

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