Edinburgh’s Mata pens one-year-contract extension ahead of Pro14 clash

 

Edinburgh Rugby’s star flanker, Viliame Mata, has committed himself to the Scottish side until 2021 after signing a one-year contract extension.

The Fijian, known around BT Murrayfield as ‘Big Bill’, signed for Edinburgh in 2016 and has played a huge part in the transformation of Edinburgh Rugby into a top, competitive side.

Before coming to Edinburgh, Mata was an international sevens player for Fiji and won a Gold medal at the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil.

Head Coach Richard Cockerill was full of praise for his influential play-maker. He said: “We’ve got to keep our best players.

 

“Bill is very happy here. he came [to us] as a world-class sevens player and with the environment that he’s in, he’s now a world-class 15’s player.

“We are delighted to have him for the next two and a half years.”

Edinburgh travel to Italy this weekend to face off against Benetton for a crucial Pro14 tie. Mata could prove pivotal to the side’s success on Saturday.

Speaking about his decision to stay in the Scottish capital, Mata said: “Edinburgh is growing into a great team right now. I am excited to be part of it for the next two seasons.”

“My family is settling well and we are loving the environment around Edinburgh.

“It is a beautiful city, but [perhaps] not the weather.”

Cockerill: Tough match against Benetton a must win

 

Edinburgh Rugby head coach, Richard Cockerill has labelled Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 match against Benetton as a must win.

Cockerill’s squad travel to Italy where they face second placed Benetton in Conference B with Edinburgh hot on their heels, four points behind in fourth.

A win at the weekend for the Scottish side would bring them one step closer to the Pro14 play-offs.

Cockerill spoke about how important a positive result would be over the weekend. He said: “It’s huge for us in the context of the conference. We have had a couple of defeats in the last three games.

“It’s going to be a very tough day but we need to go there and win. The reality is we need to win and we can’t hide away from that.”

The last time the two sides met was in September last year where Edinburgh scraped a narrow 31-30 victory. Benetton are currently the third best form team in the tournament behind only Leinster and Munster.

However, Cockerill believes that there is the opportunity for another high-scoring game. He added: “They are a good side but teams create opportunities against them.”

Centre Mark Bennett, knows that the days of disregarding Italian opposition are long in the past. He said: “We can’t take them for granted. They are a top, top side.

“We need to go into this one rearing to go. We all know how big a game this is for the club.”

Edinburgh are coming off the back of a disappointing 17-19 home loss against Cardiff Blues. This was the first defeat at BT Murrayfield for Edinburgh since April 2018 but Bennett insists that team morale is still high.

He added: “We have won eight out of our last 10 games. We’re in great form.

“We’re full of confidence. We have a great team and we have to just go for it.”

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

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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.

Edinburgh Rugby seeking to build new stadium

Edinburgh Rugby is exploring the possibility of building a new stadium next to BT Murrayfield stadium.

It is understood the club are looking to construct a 7,000 seat “mini-Murrayfield” on the training pitches next to the home of Scottish rugby.

The capital side have been in search for a permanent home for some time. Temporary stadiums used by the club have included Murrayfield, Meadowbank and their current location Myreside.

Scottish Rugby has seen interest rise in the past year with the national side fortunes improving on the pitch. Myreside stadium holds a max-capacity of 5,500 with temporary stands being used for Edinburgh Rugby games.  Any increase in match attendances would force the SRU to invest in improving facilities at Myreside to accommodate fans.

Fans have been calling for the team to move to a permanent stadium to build a strong base and would likely appeal to rugby fans living in the east of Scotland. Editor of Scrum Magazine, Stuart MacLennan believes the proposal would be a good step:

“I think it would be of great benefit to the club and the surrounding area. Every sporting club wants their own home and this could help build a culture.  I don’t think it’s ideal that they play at Myreside and it’s much better alternative.”

Many issues stand in the way of the proposals that could prevent the move going ahead. Miller Developments owns part of the SRU’s land and would likely need to be consulted before constructions plans could take place.  The Murrayfield ice rink and Murrayfield Wanderers’ Clubhouse is also on the site.

It is understood that any objections to the move could put a timespan of up to five years before proposals can be approved. Plans are believed to be at an early stage with no application for planning yet been made.

No precise details have been revealed about costs but it is understood a new stadium would cost in excess of £10 million. Stuart MacLennan suggests costs could be an issue for the club:

“I do not know how it would be financed. If they can utilise for things other than rugby then that might help.  They would have to install a 3G pitch so other organisations could use it all year-round.”

A similar concept exists in Cardiff where the 13,000-capacity BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park is situated next to the Principality Stadium – the home of Welsh rugby.

Edinburgh Rugby officials refused to comment on the speculation.

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