Richard Cockerill

Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerill has his say on the financial threat facing pro clubs

Richard Cockerill has shared his concerns for livelihoods tied to professional rugby all over the world, particularly if no crowds are allowed to attend Six Nations matches next year.

The former England hooker is preparing his Edinburgh side for the new PRO14 season which kicks off this weekend. But in times where revenue opportunities have been handcuffed by government guidelines, he has insisted personnel numbers will have to be trimmed by union-backed clubs such as Edinburgh if more isn’t done.

“If we get to the [2021] Six Nations and there are no crowds then it is clearly going to be an issue, and then we have to readjust what we do, and who gets paid what, and who does what,” said Cockerill. “It won’t be unique to me and this team, it will be the same for us all, unfortunately.”

“I think there is a threat to professional rugby worldwide, never mind in Scotland. Clearly, like us all, you guys [media] report on it. If there’s nothing to report on we’ll just be sat here [on Zoom] having quizzes won’t we?

“We’ve got to have income. If you’re not producing any money then you can’t have a professional game, so it’s obviously a concern at the back of everybody’s mind, players and coaches and the game at large. We’ve just got to keep doing our jobs and putting a good product on the field.”

Cockerill will undertake his fourth season in charge of Edinburgh on Saturday evening when welcoming Ospreys to Murrayfield, as the new season will be expanded far beyond the norm of Saturday-Sunday matchdays to now include Monday night games.

It is just one way league organisers are trying to galvanise its product, having opened talks with SA Rugby to have Super Rugby franchises Sharks, Lions, Bulls and Stormers join.

With the Southern Kings essentially reduced to a dormant club and the Cheetahs announcing they had been booted out of the competition, the four prospective new teams to the mooted ‘PRO16’ was approved by a SA Rugby general council vote on Tuesday.

So how does Cockerill feel about potentially flying to Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria or Cape Town for a Monday night game?

“It’s going to be interesting. The first time the clubs had sight of that was when it was announced so we were as intrigued as everyone else,” said Cockerill.

“But if Pro14 are telling us that Premier Sports think Monday night is the best TV slot, and that’s the way to create more revenue, well, once you’ve sold your soul, you’ve sold your soul. You get told what to do – it’s no different to any other sport.

“So, it’s eight weeks of Saturday, Saturday, Sunday, Sunday and after that it is Mondays. After that we don’t know who we’re playing, do we? We’ll be positive. I’m not worried about Sundays, Mondays, Saturdays we’ll just have our weekends on Tuesday, why not?”

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