Cockerill Believes Schoeman Red Card Was Reckless Not Malicious

Edinburgh Rugby’s Head Coach, Richard Cockerill spoke to the media on Monday about the possibility of losing Pierre Schoeman depending on the outcome of his disciplinary hearing, the upcoming challenge Benetton Treviso will pose, and the continuation of his squad’s development.

Cockerill gives direction during a training session (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

Schoeman’s card was not malicious

During the clash with Leinster in Dublin on Saturday night, loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman was shown a red card for his tackle – which head coach Cockerill deemed reckless – on Leinster flanker Dan Leavy.

Having reviewed the footage a number of times, Cockerill relented: “He has made contact with the guy’s neck to chin area and he has had to leave the field.”

In testament to Schoeman’s character, the head coach said: “I don’t think it is intentional. He has genuinely gone to defend the player. It is a difficult one. It is something that the law makers will have to look at because the tackling player is stood upright, he is tackling with his chest, and made that part a target to defend.”

Cockerill continued: “We know if you make contact with that part of the body then there will be a sanction. It is a fair enough card. He is a bit unlucky, I don’t think there is any malice in it. I just think he has caught him and unfortunately, rules are rules.”

With Schoeman’s hearing set for Wednesday, his head coach had a practical outlook on the situation: “It was not an act of thuggery. It was just a rugby incident, but you can’t do it can you? I am not trying to excuse it in any way.”

Looking towards Benetton clash

Edinburgh’s next game is at home, to Benetton Treviso. Cockerill admitted that his squad needs to look to get points out of their games in the coming weeks after a trying start to their season.

He said: “We’ve had a tough start, two away games, three in four. I don’t think you can judge any league on four games, because some teams have had easier fixtures. Some teams have played three at home, which is more helpful, because you get momentum.”

He doesn’t believe however, that his team needs any form of extra motivation. Instead, he wants them to back themselves and continue putting in strong performances, as he said: “We’ve got to show that bit of steel about us, and that confidence, and we’ve got to go and do it.”

Cockerill did not in any way disregard the determined edge that Benetton will pose, saying: “They’re a very good side and they’re getting better. They pushed Scarlets very close. They’re a good side and they’ll come with confidence.”

Another factor of the match-up will be whether Schoeman is available for selection. The head coach has already thought of how he will combat the prop not being within contention: “[Allan] Dell will start if Schoeman’s not available, and probably [Rory] Sutherland has got the march on [Daryl] Marfo at the moment, but we’ll see how they train this week.”

Young players are important to squad progression

Edinburgh, in terms of their squad, in recent times have found themselves in the very profitable position that they have a lot of young talent rising through their ranks. Some of these young players took to the field against Leinster as well.

Asked how he thought they impacted the game, Cockerill said: “Hunter-Hill, getting game time in a tough environment. Luke Crosbie coming on and mixing in with that company is really important for the development of our guys.

“Good for Jamie Farndale, getting a game under his belt and doing some good things when he got the opportunities.”

This youth and hunger interspersed with seniority and experience has proved to be having a positive impact on Cockerill’s team. He addressed how he thought opinions of his team had changed within the league, saying: “Teams are having to treat us properly, and prepare properly.

“They know they need to play well to get past us. That’s a really good foundation for us to work from, and the young lads are an important part of that.”

Cockerill acknowledges that his team still has a rather long way to go before their rejuvenation is complete, however: “Every year we need to take a stride in the right direction and we need to keep improving. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Ultimately, he hopes that there will come a point where he no longer has to utter phrases like ‘where we’re at, at the moment’. In his mind those days will come: “Yeah, some-time in the next four years.”

The future

Cockerill is quick to recognise that his team still has a long way to go, and he can’t expect a radical overall in results overnight: “Yeah, well what’s progress for us – progress isn’t winning the league, it’s taking small steps in the right direction.”

He continued: “Now there’s things we can do better, there’s skills we can improve on. There’s all those things. But we’ve got to keep this group together, and we’re strong and we’re very much all pointing in the same direction. And we’re going to work bloody hard and get better.”

He remained steadfast in this opinion, saying that whilst he wants to continue with his culture of rejuvenation, he recognises: “You’ve got to temper your ambition.”

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