Edinburgh Set To Play ‘Expansive High Tempo’ Game Under Cockerill

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LEICESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17: Richard Cockerill, the Leicester Tigers director of rugby looks on during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Leicester Tigers and Munster at Welford Road on December 17, 2016 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

With Scottish Pro12 rugby side Edinburgh set to play an expansive high tempo game under Richard Cockerill, fans can be confident that the former Leicester Tigers head coach is making his mark at his new side, north of the border.

BBC Scotland reporter Jamie Lyall has reported that new Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill is set to have his Guinness Pro12 side play an expansive, high-tempo game plan.

This comes as a slight surprise to Last Word on Rugby,  considering the extensive reports last season of a clash of coaching styles at Leicester Tigers with assistant coach Aaron Mauger. The former-All Black centre, Mauger was reported to adopt an ‘expansive attacking style’ of rugby. This was directly opposed to Cockerill’s preferred ‘forward-dominant tight game’ plan. Indeed, to demonstrate Cockerill’s love of the tight, he once remarked that the highest paid player in his squad is his tight-head….and his second highest paid player is his back-up prop.

So hearing the former Leicester man’s new side would adopt a high-tempo expansive game sounded somewhat out of character. Had the dismissal from his club of 22 years caused him to change his rugby philosophy? Or perhaps, have orders been handed down from new Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend?

The former Glasgow coach has been rumoured to want both Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh to play in a similar style, to his plan with the Scotland national team. So a ‘grand plan’ may have been hatched, with Richard Cockerill entering as one of the drivers of this strategy.

The Developing Cockerill New Game Plan

Before signing for Edinburgh, Cockerill would have been made well aware of any requirements in the performance of his side. If playing this expansive game plan was the challenge extended to Cockerill, he should be commended for facing the challenge head on–considering his clash with Mauger over this exact issue last season.

His squad selection and use in 2017/18 will be key. Not only does he have a good prop in WP Nel, but a group that he can adapt. All formed with the direction of Townsend previously, now Richard Cockerill can imprint his values and philosophy.

The most successful coaches always show sings of development in the face of adversity. Think Graham Henry, Stuart Lancaster and Vern Cotter. Should Cockerill exhibit a new game plan; and has been the main driving force in this style of play with Edinburgh, then he has shown real progression from his early days as head coach of Leicester.

Expansive High Tempo Game Under Richard Cockerill

Future success with Edinburgh in this combination of both expansive and tight-play could well earn the former Tiger’s man a few missed calls from the RFU in the years ahead. After all, Eddie Jones is only in his current role until 2019.

This reporter for one, will be keeping a keener eye than usual on the Guinness Pro12 side Edinburgh next season, in the hope of seeing both an enthralling game plan – and success for Richard Cockerill, in his new direction.

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Note: Edinburgh will play the majority of games in 2017/18 at the new ground of Myreside ground. This is away from the traditional home of Murrayfield [which will still hold major fixtures] and will create a new, closer atmosphere. Edinburgh Rugby have gained feedback with their stakeholders, for a trial period of schedules and fixtures at Myreside over the next 24 months.

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