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Former Edinburgh coach Cockerill blasts Scottish Rugby

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Thursday Apr 25, 2024

Former Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill has taken aim at Scottish Rugby in an interesting recent interview.

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Now in charge of Georgian Rugby, Cockerill led Edinburgh between 2017 – 2021 before linking up with England as their forwards coach between 2021-2023.

Speaking of the issues facing Scottish Rugby at youth level, Cockerill said, “A lot of the young players in Scotland just physically aren’t capable.

“When I arrived in Edinburgh in 2017, I felt a lot of our players in the youth system were physically underdeveloped.”

Switching his focus to those within Scottish Rugby who are tasked with developing the playing talent, the former no-nonsense hooker did hold back in his assessment.

“The people who were in charge of those programmes back in 2017, who I didn’t believe were good enough, are still there now. How can you change anything if nothing ever changes? That’s the reality.” He said.

Delving deeper into the issues he perceives to be within the Scottish game, Cockerill said that people move roles within the union.

“The biggest thing I think about the Union (Scottish Rugby) is, if you’re not very good at your job, you don’t leave. They’ll just move you somewhere else.”

On the flipside, Cockerill spoke of the ruthless nature of high-performing organisations, namely Top 14 Montpellier.

“I coached seven games in Montpellier. I won one of them and got the sack. Scotland got relegated from the Under-20s World Cup.”

Focusing on the troubles the Scottish U20 sides have faced in recent years, Cockerill feels this will come back to bite Scottish senior side in the coming years.

“They lost to Uruguay. Are you telling me Uruguay have a better youth system than Scotland?

“If you don’t change anything, nothing will change. If the same people are kept in place, running the same programme that clearly isn’t producing results, why will anything change?

“I joined Edinburgh in 2017, and the two best tightheads were Zander Fagerson and WP Nel.  That’s still the case now, seven years later.

“Where’s the next young kid? That’s a concern. Italy are getting stronger and Georgia are getting stronger, I’ll make sure of that.

“When this generation of Scotland players slowly starts to fall off the edge of the cliff, who’s going to take over?”

Looking back his former club, Cockerill was happy to see them playing a good brand of rugby and feels they will be successful.

“They are a good side who play good rugby. Hopefully, they’ll be in the play-offs come the end of the season.

“A lot of the Edinburgh boys in the national team with Scotland, I helped them initially and coached them. I’ve got fond memories.”

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