Edinburgh’s Richard Cockerill is on a four-strong shortlist of candidates to become the next Clermont head coach.
Cockerill has been identified by the Top 14 club as a potential target to replace long-standing Franck Azema, who will move to Montpellier next season.
The former England hooker is contracted to Scottish Rugby for two more seasons, and the governing body would likely be due some form of compensation should Clermont move to hire him. It is also unclear whether Cockerill would be willing to uproot his family, who have been with him in Edinburgh since 2017.
Clermont have earmarked the 50-year-old as one of a quartet of coaches of interest, having spent two seasons in the Massif Central as a player between 2002 and 2004.
Also on the shortlist are Jono Gibbes, La Rochelle’s director of rugby who previously had a stint as Clermont’s forwards coach, former France hooker and Bayonne head coach Yannick Bru, and Jeremy Davidson, the ex-Ireland lock now in charge at Brive, whom he led to promotion from the ProD2.
Cockerill’s Edinburgh CV is undoubtedly impressive, having guided the squad to their first-ever Pro14 play-off in his maiden season at the helm, a European Champions Cup quarter-final the following year, and within a whisker of the league final last term.
His squad has been ravaged by international call-ups and injuries this term, with Edinburgh fifth in Conference B, and facing a bruising trip to last year’s runners-up Racing 92 in the Champions Cup last 16.
He is best known for his 23-year association with Leicester Tigers as uncompromising player and coach. In the latter role, he won three Premiership titles and reached the European final. When Tigers sacked him, Cockerill went back to France to take up a short-term position with Toulon under Mike Ford. Within a few months, Ford had been dismissed, and Cockerill steered Toulon to the Top 14 final as acting head coach, where his side lost to Clermont.
Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson told the BBC Scotland Rugby Podcast that there had been “interest from other places” when Cockerill signed a contract extension last year. Montpellier were among the recent suitors.
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