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Get to know PRO14 -Edinburgh Rugby

After a season that saw them appoint two head coaches and announce a third while also sustaining horrific injuries up front – Edinburgh will be looking for a change of fortunes this season.

But while the 2016/17 campaign was one to forget, optimism is high in the Scottish capital ahead of the new season with Richard Cockerill at the helm.

They have a promising history both domestically and in Europe and will be looking to fulfil that vast potential in the new-look Guinness PRO14 era.

HISTORY

Their best finish domestically in the tournament came back in the 2008/09 season.

That owed much to the pinpoint goal-kicking of Chris Paterson and the sharp finishing of Ben Cairns out wide but in more recent years with the Italian sides introduction Edinburgh have found the league tough going.

But in Europe they have caught the eye, making the Heineken Cup semi-finals in the 2011/12 season – something their fierce rivals Glasgow Warriors are yet to accomplish – and the Challenge Cup final in 2014/15.

CAPTAIN

Last year the club operated a two-captain system with Grant Gilchrist and Stuart McInally both given the armband.

Scotland lock Gilchrist has captained his country as well but has found regular game time tough in the last couple of years as he has been beset by injuries.

McInally meanwhile, a converted hooker from the back row, has led from the front when called upon but the squad also have the experience of Scotland centurion Ross Ford to call upon.

COACH

First Alan Solomons and then Duncan Hodge took the reins last year as Edinburgh finished ninth in the league but this year they have Cockerill in charge.

The Leicester Tigers legend, who has led the club to multiple titles as both a player and a coach, returns to these shores after spending much of last season in France with Toulon.

The French side ended up as Top 14 runners-up but there is no doubt that the former England hooker Cockerill will turn things around in the Scottish capital this year.

STAR MAN

Injuries to both WP Nel and Alasdair Dickinson robbed Edinburgh of their muscle up front last season but one forward who did shine was flanker Hamish Watson.

The openside performed wonders for club and then country in a breakthrough season that saw him finish the campaign ahead of John Hardie in the No.7 shirt for both Edinburgh and Scotland.

A clever carrier with skilful footwork, Watson is a threat in attack while he is at his pilfering best over the ball at the breakdown and makes tackles all day.

Unfortunate to be overlooked by the British & Irish Lions, if Watson can continue his upward trajectory this season he could establish himself as one of the most feared opensides in the northern hemisphere.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Edinburgh fans would have been licking their lips when Mark Bennett was announced as moving across the country from Glasgow Warriors.

But the Scotland centre will miss much of the campaign after surgery on his cruciate ligaments meaning the one to watch is another new signing in midfield in the form of Robbie Fruean.

Well known to any fan of Super Rugby for his storming performances for both the Crusaders and the Chiefs, the wrecking ball centre has had a tough time of it with injuries in recent years.

He showed glimpses of his power last season with Bath but this season has moved north of the border in search of more playing time and hopefully shaking off his injury curse.

When fully fit, there are few who can match Fruean in full flight and with the improving Chris Dean and Phil Burleigh also in contention, midfield is a hot-bed of talent for Edinburgh this season.

STADIUM

Earlier this summer Edinburgh announced they will continue to play their home matches at Myreside for the next three seasons, with a select number of fixtures returning to BT Murrayfield in the 2017/18 season.

Following a six-game trial in season 2016/17, the club undertook a thorough review with supporters, local residents, and other key stakeholders including players and new head coach Cockerill. The results of the feedback showed a continued desire to evolve the matchday experience at Myreside, whilst supporters also enjoyed use of the excellent facilities available at BT Murrayfield.

In light of this, Edinburgh will play a minimum of nine home matches at Myreside next year – subject to planning permission – with select fixtures, including the annual 1872 Cup clash, being played at BT Murrayfield.

HISTORIC RIVALRIES

Edinburgh’s chief rivals are their compatriots Glasgow Warriors whom they meet in the 1872 Cup every year.

The 1872 Cup was instigated in the 2007/08 season to commemorate the date of the oldest derby match in rugby union history between the original Glasgow and Edinburgh amateur district sides on which the professional clubs were founded

Edinburgh have won two of the last three, but Glasgow are the holders of the trophy that is two-legged but will be three from this season in the new-look Guinness PRO14 era.

Read more at www.pro14rugby.org

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