MIKE BLAIR has been named as Richard Cockerill’s successor as head coach at Edinburgh, meaning a return to the club for the former Scotland and Lions scrum-half who made 150 appearances for the capital outfit between 2001 and 2012.
Following spells with Brive, Newcastle Falcons and Glasgow Warriors during the back end of his playing career, Blair became an assistant coach for both Glasgow and Scotland in 2016, before focussing fully on the national team for the past two years.
As an individual who has clearly been ear-marked as a coach of serious potential since his playing days, the 40-year-old was the obvious choice to take over the capital club following the abrupt departure of Cockerill earlier this week. He was supposed to get his first taste of life as a head coach standing in for Gregor Townsend this summer until Covid wrecked Scotland’s three-match schedule.
“The first emotion is one of pride,” said Blair. “I’ve lived in Edinburgh most of my life, played 11 seasons at the club and still live in the city, so having that attachment combine with the opportunity to lead the squad is really special for me.
“I’ve learned a lot from working with quality coaches like Dave Rennie, Jason O’Halloran and Gregor Townsend, in particular and over the years, and have been able to develop and adapt a philosophy that I feel should benefit the talent we have at the club.
“It’s a really exciting squad. There’s a good balance of experience and backgrounds and I’m looking forward to getting to know the players and their strengths better so we can mould that into making Edinburgh both good to watch and successful.Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach, Mike Blair
“It’s also a really good time to come in with all the excitement around the launch of the new stadium this summer. It’s a massive, watershed moment for the club. We all want to get that packed out with supporters from the outset and build an atmosphere the players deserve and the fans can be proud of.”
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Edinburgh Rugby Managing Director, Douglas Struth, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Mike back to the club as our Head Coach, having watched his development into a first-rate coach over the past six years.
“Not only does he bring that expertise, but Mike is also a local man, a club centurion, and somebody who became a home-grown legend in an Edinburgh Rugby jersey.
“That’s really important to us and is a fantastic illustration of our ambition to promote and develop local stars of the future.
“It’s a new era for the club, with a new stadium and new tournament formats, and we believe Mike is the right man to continue the development of our tactical approach and winning mentality on the field, and our culture and connection to the wider rugby community off it.”