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Richard Cockerill to lead Georgia's resurgence as next head coach

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Monday Dec 11, 2023

Former England coach Richard Cockerill is on the cusp of becoming Georgia’s new head coach, beating out contenders like Eddie Jones for the coveted position.

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The 52-year-old, recently ousted as Montpellier’s head coach, is now the preferred choice for the Georgia Rugby Union, set to replace Levan Maisashvili.

Cockerill’s recent departure from Montpellier followed a tumultuous start to the Top 14 season, a stark contrast to his successful two-year stint as England’s forwards coach under the leadership of Eddie Jones and Steve Borthwick.

The Daily Mail reports that despite competition from renowned coaches like Jones and Joe Schmidt, Cockerill is the leading candidate, with the Georgia Rugby Union expressing confidence in finalizing the deal.

Georgia Rugby president Ioseb Tkemaladze revealed, “We discussed almost every possible candidate. Whether it was Eddie Jones or others, we talked to almost everyone. Richard is coming to have closer talks. We still have to agree on micro-details with him, and hopefully, we will be able to do that. We are close to reaching an agreement. If we agree, he will receive a long-term offer. The contract will be four years.”

The decision to part ways with Maisashvili stemmed from Georgia’s disappointing Rugby World Cup performance, where they failed to secure a victory, managing only an 18-18 draw against Portugal as their best result. Despite the notable presence of Jones and Schmidt on the shortlist, the Lelos opted for Cockerill to spearhead their rugby program.

Known for his tough coaching style, Cockerill enjoyed success as Leicester Tigers’ director of rugby from 2009 to 2017 before brief stints with Toulon and Edinburgh. His experience extends to two years as England’s forwards coach, and now, after a brief setback at Montpellier, he is poised to bring his expertise to Georgia.

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Currently, in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, Cockerill is finalizing negotiations and taking in the Black Lion’s European Challenge Cup debut against Premiership side Gloucester. If the details are ironed out, Cockerill is set to embark on a new chapter, steering Georgia’s rugby future with a four-year contract.

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