Two Scottish sides in Champions Cup knockout would be ‘impressive’ says Cockerill

Richard Cockerill

Richard Cockerill wouldn’t mind assisting ‘our little brother’ Glasgow Warriors’ qualification. (Photo credit: Fraser Munro)

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach, Richard Cockerill claimed it would be a win for Scottish rugby to have two sides from Scotland in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup.

The side from the capital take on Montpellier tonight at Murrayfield in a deciding match to see who will finish top of Pool 5.

If Cockerill’s side beat Montpellier then it would ensure Glasgow Warriors’ qualification for the last eight as one of three best group runners up.

The Edinburgh coach felt having both sides in the knockout phase would be an important step for Scottish rugby.

Cockerill said: “It’s important for Scottish rugby. We’re a small nation and we’ve got a small playing pool. For us to be even contemplating getting two sides, a quarter of the European knockouts to be Scottish is pretty impressive.”

Cockerill added that the main focus was still on ensuring victory over Montpellier and subsequently a home fixture for the quarter finals.

He said: “We’re only interested in Edinburgh but the by-product is getting Glasgow [Warriors] through. It’s about time that we start doing them some favours, our little brother down at the end of the motorway. We’ll try get them qualified.”

Edinburgh have won their last six matches and remain undefeated at home. They’re coming off the back of a historic away victory against Toulon, the first ever Scottish side to win at the Stade Mayol.

Murrayfield_Stadium_edit credit to vclaw

Edinburgh host Montpellier at Murrayfield tonight. Kick off is at 7:45pm. (Photo Credit: Vclaw via Wikipedia)

However, focus now turns to another French side, Montpellier. Vern Cotter’s side beat Edinburgh 21-15 back in October 2018 and Cockerill said he’s expecting another close encounter this time round.

He said: “I’m sure Vern will have a well motivated team that will be well coached. They’ve got some exceptionally good players. I don’t expect them to be taking us lightly.

“We’re not playing teams anymore that rest their best players when they play Edinburgh, they’re picking their best players because they have to to get past us. I have every confidence that if we play as well as we can we’ll beat them.”

It all gets underway at Murrayfield with a 7:45pm kick off.

Edinburgh prepare for final Champions Cup group match against Montpellier

Edinburgh Rugby have named an unchanged side from last week’s win over Toulon for their final match tonight in Pool 5 at Murrayfield against Montpellier.

Richard Cockerill’s side will kick off three points ahead of their French opposition as they aim to land a home quarter-final in the Champions Cup should they be victorious by the final whistle.

A win for the side from the capital would also secure a place for Glasgow Warriors as one of the three best runners up in the group stage.

Edinburgh fullback, Blair Kinghorn was one of the try scorers in the historic win over Toulon last weekend. He believes the performances the club are producing this season are gaining the respect from clubs across Europe. He said: “We knew it would be tough, with a couple of really big teams in there and some especially tough away games.

Blair Kinghorn

Blair Kinghorn anticipates a tough match against Montpellier. (Photo credit: Fraser Munro)

“We’re really happy with the way we’re going and now it’s a case of keeping focussed on the job in hand.

“We feel like we’re earning respect in a wider pool not just in our own league so hopefully teams will want to come to Murrayfield because our home record is outstanding this year and we will do everything to keep that going on Friday.

“Everyone’s obviously really happy, but we’ve still got a job to do on Friday. Every single one of us is enjoying the rugby, we’re happy to be winning and most importantly to be playing well.”

“It was a fantastic result against Toulon and hopefully the fans come out in their numbers again on Friday night to get us across the line.”

Edinburgh opened their first Champions Cup campaign for five seasons with a 21-15 defeat away at Montpellier, who currently sit in ninth place in the French Top 14.

However, Vern Cotter’s side will know how dangerous Edinburgh can be at home. With Cockerill’s side yet to taste defeat at Murrayfield this season.

In spite of this, Edinburgh prop Pierre Schoeman insists that his side will go into this match with the odds against them. He said: “I would say that we are still underdogs for sure, if you look at the players and the experience that they have as a squad.

“It’s a team full of players who have worked very hard to get there and to play for a club like that is a fantastic achievement. The stats speak for themselves, a very successful club globally.

“We have home advantage, but Montpellier are an international team and for them travelling is like brushing your teeth so it’s not going to affect them at all. Murrayfield is a very special place and will be a boost of energy to us.

“This is a home test against one of Europe’s very best so the pressure is definitely on.”

Edinburgh could still qualify for the last eight of the Champions Cup but with a home tie in the quarter finals agonizingly close, Cockerill’s men can’t afford to slip up at the final hurdle.

It all gets underway at Murrayfield from 7:45pm.

Edinburgh Rugby look ahead to European clash with Newcastle Falcons

Murrayfield_Stadium_edit credit to vclaw

Edinburgh host Newcastle Falcons at BT Murrayfield this week. (Photo Credit: Vclaw via Wikipedia)

Edinburgh Rugby will face off Newcastle Falcons in a double header in the Heineken Champions Cup, with the first match coming on Friday night at BT Murrayfield.

The European expedition is a welcome break from the Pro14 where they have lost their last two matches against Munster and the Dragons respectively.

The Scottish side will be looking for back to back wins in the competition after their emphatic 40-14 win against Toulouse earlier this season.

Scrum-half, Henry Pyrgos was optimistic ahead of the clash and spoke of Edinburgh’s formidable home form.

He said: “The group is wide open at the moment so this double header coming up will be big, if we can go out and play well and get a win it’ll put us in a good position.

“They have a lot of quality, we’re going to have to play really well and expect Newcastle to bring their best game.

“We want to make it as uncomfortable as possible for away teams.

“We’ll get the chance to play in front of our home fans, it’s really exciting. I’ve always thought it’s an awesome place to play.”

Head coach, Richard Cockerill spoke of the impact that returning International players have had on the squad.

Richard Cockerill all smiles ahead of Falcons clash. Photo by David Ronney

Richard Cockerill all smiles ahead of Falcons clash. (Photo Credit: David Ronney)

He said: “It’s been good to get them back and get them integrated back into the team.

“They will be involved at the weekend and will all play a big part.

“It’s great that we have so many guys playing for Scotland and obviously Viliame Mata with Fiji but with the injuries that we’ve had its hurt us a little bit. But that’s life. The season is very much alive for us.

“If we can get two wins it puts us in a great position to qualify. There’s no reason if we get it right that we can’t do it.”

Jamie Ritchie excited for BT Murrayfield return

Jamie Ritchie looks forward to another match at BT Murrayfield. Photo by Daviod

Jamie Ritchie looks forward to another match at BT Murrayfield. (Photo Credit: David Ronney)

Edinburgh Rugby’s Jamie Ritchie is itching to get back onto the BT Murrayfield pitch after successful Autumn Tests with Scotland.

The flanker scored his first try for Gregor Townsend’s side in their 54-17 win over Fiji in November and says playing at Scotland’s home of rugby is a unique experience.

He said: “Playing here is something that I’ve dreamt of since I was a kid. Growing up playing rugby in Scotland it was something very special.”

Ritchie got minutes against Fiji, South Africa and Argentina over November and jokingly admitted his try wasn’t the most impressive.

He added: “Did you see it? It was pretty average.

“Obviously it was amazing. It took me 42 games to score for Edinburgh so to do it in three or four for Scotland, it was pretty cool.

“Being in front of a home crowd, everyone is shouting for you instead of the other team so it makes a bit of a difference.

“To get to play in front of a sell-out BT Murrayfield was amazing for me.”

Ritchie is set to return for Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh side this Friday when they face Newcastle Falcons in the Heineken Champions Cup.

“Playing here is something that I’ve dreamt of since I was a kid.”

With the side suffering from tough results due to depleted squads as of late, Ritchie knows the importance to have the international players back at the club.

He said: “It’s back to square one as far as I’m concerned, get back playing well for Edinburgh.

“Guys who played a few Autumn internationals got a week off last week so hopefully we’re pretty fresh coming into these next two games.

“We’re looking forward to it. Europe probably freshens it up for the whole squad having had a bit of patchy form.

“We’re excited to get out there and hopefully play well.”

Edinburgh Rugby’s Chris Dean hopes to make an Impression against Zebre


Chris Dean is relishing the chance to cement his place in the first team at Edinburgh Rugby.

With 17 players from the capital side now away at the Scotland camp ahead of the autumn internationals, Dean and other young players will be stepping into the fold against their next opponents.

Dean did not make the starting lineup at the weekend in Edinburgh’s emphatic 40-14 victory but did come off the bench to score the final try for his side. He is keen to prove that last weeks performance was not a one off for the squad.

Edinburgh will face Zebre in the Pro 14 on Friday. The struggling Italian side will be looking to capitalise on the depleted Edinburgh squad.

Head coach Richard Cockerill said:

“It will be difficult we have guys away training with Scotland … but we have a good squad and we have to utilise that squad.

“We have got some young Scottish players that will come up and step up and we just have to trust in the academy system.

“We have to get as well prepared as we can and go with the mind-set to win. It’s important to be consistent.”

New Stadium could give Edinburgh a Fortress to Defend


A new stadium planned to be built next to the Scottish national Stadium, Murrayfield, has been given the go-ahead by Edinburgh council.

It is hoped that the new build will be completed next year in time for Edinburgh Rugby to make it their new home.

With just under 8,000 seats it is hoped that sell-out crowds will gather to watch a revitalised capital side. With significantly less seats to fill than Murrayfield’s 67,000.

Less seats mean a more intense atmosphere can be achieved making Edinburgh a more daunting opponent, allowing them to build a club identity and creating a closer connection with fans.

Edinburgh forward, Rory Sutherland said:

“We would like somewhere we can call a home.

“It’s going to be important for creating an atmosphere, getting the support in … it can make a big difference.”

Head Coach Richard Cockerel added:

“It’s great to have your own home. we had over 7,000 here at the weekend and with the new stadium holding 7,800, we can start to get sell-out crowds like they have at Scotstoun.

“It then becomes our own atmosphere, our own pitch, our own stadium, our own branding, all those things. We can build our own identity and move forward.

“Edinburgh will have a permanent home that we can build a team and a club around.”


Cockerill calls for ‘ruthless’ Edinburgh side ahead of Montpellier clash


Cockerill ready for tough encounter (Photo Credit: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

Edinburgh Rugby head coach, Richard Cockerill believes it’ll be a tough fight for his side to get a result against Montpellier this weekend.

The two meet in the Champions Cup on Saturday and despite coming off the back of two consecutive home wins, the 47-year-old was realistic about their chances against the French side.

The Scottish capital side are back in the competition for the first time in five years and will be facing off against a former Edinburgh Rugby coach, Vern Cotter. Cockerill welcomed a challenge from a familiar face.

He said: “Our paths have crossed over the years, and he is a great coach, one who knows what he wants from his team. I can’t imagine Vern not having a motivated team this weekend and I don’t think he will want to be beaten by an Edinburgh side at home.”

Cockerill is on record previously stating that the Champions Cup is a competition that his team are not equipped to go on and win. But when asked what he thought Edinburgh’s chances of getting out the group, he remained as realistic as ever.

He said: “Getting out of this group a big ask. If we are going to win in the next 2 weeks we’re going to have to play a lot better than we have in the last 15 months, and if we get four or five opportunities to win the game against Montpellier we need to take them. I think in the past that we have let teams back into games, take the Cheetahs game for example, but on Saturday we can’t let that happen. We need to be ruthless.”

Murrayfield_Stadium_edit credit to vclaw

Edinburgh will face Toulon at Murrayfield in 2 weeks (Photo Credit: Vclaw)

However, when asked if Edinburgh were to come away from Saturday’s clash with a win, Cockerill made note that his emotions would be on show.

He said: “Montpellier are a phenomenal club, it’s the European equivalent of playing a team like Saracens. If we come away with a win I will be more than delighted.”

Cockerill, in rare spell of optimism, said that his side were going to Montpellier not just to keep the score down to a minimum, but to go and play their own style of rugby and try to win.

Edinburgh have been known to perform at their best when nothing is expected of them and they are considered underdogs against the team currently sitting in 4th place in the Top 14 League. The Edinburgh manager hinted that the lack of expectation about the Montpellier game could suit them.

“I think in the past that we have let teams back into games, take the Cheetahs game for example, but on Saturday we can’t let that happen. We need to be ruthless.”

He went onto describe the Champions Cup as a great opportunity for himself and his players to gain experience at the very highest level. And his mood was only boosted by having a virtually fully fit squad from the game against Cheetahs. Admitting that winger, Van Der Merwe had a slight hamstring tweak from Friday night and would be touch and go right up until the weekend.

After losing three out of four of their first matches in the Guinness Pro14 this season, Edinburgh now have three wins under their belt to add a bit of confidence heading into the weekend. Edinburgh rugby fans will be looking forward to seeing their team tested against one of the best sides in Europe that Cockerill himself said could easily win the Champions Cup.

Dell “excited” to be back involved for Edinburgh


Edinburgh Rugby prop Allan Dell is back in the mix for the club, replacing the suspended Pierre Schoeman, and is looking to build his fitness over the next few weeks.

The 26-year-old was in the team for last weekend’s narrow victory over Italian side Benetton, and is now hoping to get a run of games under his belt.

“Injuries are frustrating, and it’s just that whole process of trying to get match fitness in,” said the Scotland International.

“My body is not what it used to be, so I’m just enjoying every week at the moment.

“I think the fitness will be tested this week if I’m selected against the Cheetahs. Luckily, we’re not playing in Bloemfontein, otherwise my lungs would be burning so I can’t complain about that.

“I’m finally starting to get that fitness back, I’m starting to get a run of games under my belt so I can start building that resilience into the game.”

Edinburgh face Cheetahs in the Pro14 this Friday, and Dell is wary of the threat the South African club pose despite their poor start to the season.

“The Cheetahs are always dangerous. Other than their opening game, they have been competitive in every game that they’ve played. We have to make sure that we are switched on.

“They are an exciting side. You don’t really know what they are going to do. But that unstructured style of play suits them. They make it look like they have no game plan but they fill well into that.

“We need to be on the money. The way that we have been analysing them, we have to stick to that because if we switch off, they’ll score one or two tries quickly. And we won’t be able to come back against a side that good.”

Edinburgh face Cheetahs at BT Murrayfield this Friday. Kick-off is at 7:35pm.

Rugby Round Up

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Scotland squad was announced today for the trip to Italy. Credit: Scotland Rugby twitter

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