Dire warning that Edinburgh Rugby won’t be able to compete on current budgets

Richard Cockerill has warned that Edinburgh will be unable to compete at the top level on their current budget.

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

The capital side, shorn of their Scotland international contingent, lost 50-10 to Leinster in Dublin on Monday and sit second bottom of Conference B in the Guinness Pro14.

Edinburgh won Conference B last season but have lost four of six games during this campaign.

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Their cause has not been helped by having to play on Monday nights. Usually, Scotland players who are not selected for the matchday 23 on international days are released back to play for their clubs for weekend games. But because Mondays and Tuesdays are key training days for the national side, head coach Gregor Townsend has been unable to send any of his Scotland players back to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Cockerill, the Edinburgh coach, said: “Our squad depth has been tested and tested again and, when you come to Leinster who have the depth they have and quality they have, fair play to them, we’re just not good enough to compete.

“It’s disappointing, you want to be more competitive, but the reality is that we just can’t be with the players we have missing and the injuries we have and the budgets we have.”

Edinburgh and Glasgow are both funded by the Scottish Rugby Union which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. No spectators are allowed to attend Scotland matches and the absence of matchday income has left a huge hole in the SRU’s finances.

The union announced a further delay in publishing its accounts last week and chief executive Mark Dodson warned earlier this year that the prospect of Scotland playing no international matches in front of paying supporters for the rest of the year and through to next year’s Six Nations would cost the SRU at least £40 million in lost revenue.

Cockerill admits it is a unique set of circumstances but warns that expectations for the pro teams must be adjusted accordingly.

“If we all accept that, when there are Test matches on, the possibility is your club teams are not going to be competitive, we have to accept that and everybody has to understand there will be less expectation, or you fund it differently and expect to be more competitive when guys are away,” he told the BBC.

Edinburgh do not play against until 30 November when they host Ulster at BT Murrayfield. It’s another tough match on a Monday night and they are likely to be without their international players once again as Scotland are scheduled to play Fiji two days beforehand, although that game has been placed in doubt by a number of Covid-19 positive tests in the Fijian camp.

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