Mike Blair appointed head coach at Edinburgh

Former scrum-half will return to the club where he started his professional playing career after spells as an assistant coach with Glasgow Warriors and Scotland

Mike Blair
Mike Blair is moving to Japan to become assistant coach at Kobe Steelers. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

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.


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“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.”


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About David Barnes 3820 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

11 Comments

  1. I wish Mike Blair all the best, but is he an unwitting victim of the SRU’s smoke and mirrors campaign following the departure of Cockerill ? The SRU/Edinburgh decision certainly cannot have been based on the results and performance on the Scotland tour, which was cancelled. This smacks of economy, easy options and funding bonuses. At least the poor wee petals in the squad may be more comfortable. Would the Boks players complain about a hard taskmaster ? A pity the SRU/Edinburgh couldn’t have been more transparent and up front with the fans BEFORE all the hype to generate the sale of season tickets.

    Adverse comments have been made about Cockerill’s style of play, but Duncan Hodge must hold his hand up too. He had a period as interim coach and then under Cockerill, but the backs scarecely set the heather on fire.

    As AL (23/7) implies, stern Vern has the teeshirt and Cockerill has one now too. Perhaps the SRU can sell them in the Murrayfield shop. Maybe Vern and Cockerill can share some stories over a pint.

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    • don’t remember any stories about Cotter verbally abusing and humiliating players in front of the full squad.
      Don’t confuse tough management with being a bully who drives good players away. Those who wondered why Sutherland and Duhan would move to Worcs, or Bergan move from ready to take over from Nel to understudy to Fagerson and Pieretto (and will prob move on next season when his agent has a chance to place him) now know why

  2. Really hope this works out for Edinburgh… Blair will bring the missing flair in attack – hopefully the progress Cockers made with the pack can also be maintained. Scottish rugby desperately needs two strong pro teams.

  3. Really hope this works out for Edinburgh. Blair will bring the missing flair in attack – hopefully the progress Cockers made with the pack can also be maintained. Scottish rugby desperately needs two strong pro teams.

  4. I don’t doubt he will do a cracking job especially if they can retain Callum McCrae who also has great potential, but we really need to have proper transparent recruitment processes in place. It’s pro rugby in 21st Century not the amateurs. We don’t know who might be interested if we don’t have a proper process. Certainly not having a dig at Blair as in this instance, it might well be that he would still have been the best candidate but it’s time to modernise our processes so that if there isn’t a Mike Blair on the books, we actually get strongest candidate for future vacancies.

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    • How transparent can you really be?

      I suspect this has been lined up for a wee while.

      • Yes, smacks of stern Vern’s departure from the Scotland role .. so there’s definitely form for this in the SRU.

        That said, let’s hope he comes in and does a great job, we could really do with a return of the good times !

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  5. Apart from being a genuine world-class player in his day, I have long-admired Mike Blair’s ever-so intelligent analysis of the game, whichever of the media he reported for. Hopefully, this knowledge will be put to great use in his new role.

  6. Should lead to more expansive play from Edinburgh. Does that mean that Duncan Hodge will be moved aside from his backs role?
    Will the forwards be able to retain their hard edge without Cockers, or will bad habits slowly seep back into the pack?

  7. Wish him the very best of luck – sadly he’s coming in after Edinburgh have lost 2 of their best players. As a 9 he’ll understand how much Edinburgh need a 9 and 10.

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