John Barclay has said he is far from surprised by Richard Cockerill’s sudden departure from Edinburgh as the coach was a “malign presence” at the club.
Former Scotland captain Barclay played under Cockerill at Edinburgh for the final two years of his career, and while he acknowledged that the former England hooker made some positive changes at the club, he wasn’t a fan of his “old-school” style.
Barclay was writing in his column for The Times about Cockerill’s departure from Edinburgh and admitted his surprise at how long the head coach lasted in the Scottish capital.
Edinburgh Rugby today announced Head Coach Richard Cockerill has left the club by mutual consent to allow him to pursue other opportunities.
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— Edinburgh Rugby (@EdinburghRugby) July 19, 2021
John Barclay on his time under Richard Cockerill.
“The news that Richard Cockerill has left his job as Edinburgh head coach caught many on the hop, but I was far from surprised to hear that the former England hooker had gone. Frankly, the only surprise is that he lasted as long as he did,” Barclay wrote.
“It has to be said that Cockers made some positive changes when he came into the job four years ago. At that time Edinburgh were seen as listless, rudderless and with a soft underbelly.
“There was a sense of complacency about the club, with players seemingly believing that playing professional rugby was enough and that winning was optional. There was no sense of common purpose with a lacklustre approach to standards.
“So Edinburgh needed someone like Cockers back in 2017. They needed a firm, even autocratic leader. What they did not need was for him to hang around being firm and autocratic after he had knocked them into shape.
“He was an agent of positive change at the start, but he was a malign presence thereafter.”
Richard Cockerill’s career to date.
Cockerill spent the majority of his playing career with Leicester Tigers and won 27 caps for England between 1997 and 1999.
The former hooker began a career in coaching as soon as he finished playing in 2005, becoming the forwards coach for his long-time club Leicester in the same year.
The Englishman eventually took over as head coach of the Tigers in 2009 and remained in that position until January 2017.
After a short time with Toulon’s coaching staff Cockerill took over as Edinburgh’s head coach ahead of the 2017/18 season and did improve the Scottish club’s fortunes on his arrival.
However, Edinburgh performed poorly in last season’s Guinness Pro14 and were beaten by 53 points by Racing 92 in the Champions Cup round of 16, which ended Cockerill’s tenure on a disappointing note.