UPDATED: Andrew Davidson to leave Edinburgh for Gloucester

Richard Cockerill says the lock was offered "a robust deal" to stay at Murrayfield

Andrew Davidson will leave Edinburgh to join Gloucester in the summer. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Andrew Davidson will leave Edinburgh to join Gloucester in the summer. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

RICHARD Cockerill has revealed that Andrew Davidson will leave Edinburgh for Gloucester in the summer, joining Duhan van der Merwe in departing the capital club for a move to the English Premiership. But the head coach insisted that there was no exodus from Scottish rugby, and said that his team would announce signings and re-signings in the coming days.

Davidson, 24, only joined Edinburgh last summer, moving east from Scotstoun after a season and a bit with Glasgow. He first joined the Warriors on loan from Newcastle in 2018, then the deal was made permanent for the start of the 2019-20 season.

Cockerill revealed the lock’s impending move on a media call today (Tuesday), and said the player had opted to make the move despite being offered “a robust deal” to stay. He also suggested that the desire to play more regular first-team rugby could not have been the reason behind the decision to leave.

“I think he’s played more regularly than any other lock in our team,” the coach said. “He came from Glasgow having not played much, but has played a lot this season and improved considerably. He’s played in the Premiership previously and his decision was that he wanted to return to the Premiership and he had an opportunity at Gloucester. He felt that that was what would be best for his game.

“It was a very difficult decision, because he’s been coached very well here and looked after very well here and he’s improved out of sight here. He’s never played better rugby than he has this season. Yes, we wanted to keep him and we offered him a robust deal, but it wasn’t a financial decision for Davidson: he thought the opportunity to go to Gloucester would be a good one.”

The news that Davidson and Van der Merwe are off to England comes just three weeks after Glasgow confirmed that Adam Hastings, too, will be leaving at the end of the season – like Davidson, for Gloucester. But,  asked if he was concerned about the amount of talent leaving Scotland, Cockerill replied: “Not really. In the next few days and weeks we’ll announce guys who are coming and others who are re-signing.

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“It’s just market forces. We put forward a more than competitive offer to Duhan. He’s chosen not to accept that to go elsewhere. That’s the economics of it. We have to respect his decision. We have him for the next months and he’ll still be coming back to play for Scotland hopefully. But it opens the door for someone else.

“Duhan has left for his reasons and Andrew Davidson will go to Gloucester. Some of that is because of where they want to play from a competition point of view. But we’ve done some deals and there are a few others still to do. There are no guarantees in any sport that everyone is going to stay. But I can assure people that we will still have a strong squad of guys who will make Edinburgh a good team going forward and will provide players for Scotland.

“It doesn’t take too much working out that we’ve got young players coming through who have come on to the scene and become internationals since they were last awarded contracts. So they’re going to want more money. We are in Covid times, so budgets are very tight. Wages go up and your budget goes down so you have to manage that sensibly. There was only a point we could go to in Duhan’s case. It was a very robust financial offer, but he didn’t accept it.

“With respect to Worcester and Gloucester, I don’t think they’re two teams you’re going to go to win silverware with. They’ve got as much or as little chance as ourselves. I’m trying to think of the last time Gloucester or Worcester won a trophy or the Premiership. So it’s a bit harsh to say that players are leaving Edinburgh to go to win trophies.”

Davidson should still have a sizeable role to play in the second row with Edinburgh for the remainder of the season, although he faces increased competition from now on as Grant Gilchrist has recovered from injury and will be fit to play against Glasgow on Friday night.

Edinburgh eventually got the better of their rivals last weekend, winning 10-7 in a turgid match at BT Murrayfield. But they struggled in the lineout, where Richie Gray ruled the roost on his return from injury for Glasgow, and Cockerill must be tempted to reunite Gilchrist with Ben Toolis this week.

“He’s worked very hard, he’s recovered very well, he’s been with us training the last couple of weeks, doing most stuff,” the coach said of Gilchrist. “He was very close to playing last week but wasn’t quite right, not quite comfortable in himself to play. But he has trained the last couple of days and is ready to go.”

“Like Davidson, Gilchrist will come back into the reckoning. Toolis was very good at the weekend. Jamie Hodgson has done very well, [Andries] Ferreira too. So when we’ve got everyone fit we’ve got a decent stock, and there is also Lewis Carmichael due to come back.

“We clearly weren’t good enough in the lineout, and it’s going to be an important part of our game. We had key positions where we couldn’t win the ball and that hurt us, so we need to get it right this weekend.”

Duhan van der Merwe to quit Edinburgh for Worcester Warriors at end of season

About Stuart Bathgate 1393 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

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