Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill may have left the Premiership in inauspicious circumstances in 2017, but a return to the English top-flight could yet be on the cards for the former England hooker. RugbyPass understands Cockerill is number one on Gloucester’s shortlist to replace Johan Ackermann.

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Ackermann will join Japanese club NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in July, the South African leaving England just two seasons after getting his Premiership start at the Cherry and Whites after leaving the Lions in 2017/18.

The problem for Gloucester is that Cockerill signed a two-year contract extension with the PRO14 club in 2018, bringing him up to 2021. In the event of Cockerill leaving Edinburgh, it would mean an exit from that contract.

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His time at The Capitol club has been highly successful, taking the team from serial underachievers to potential league contenders and Edinburgh will be keen to hang onto the Englishman. Likewise, Cockerill appears happy at Edinburgh.

Gloucester claimed in a Q and A yesterday that they are in no rush to replace Ackermann, and will make an announcement on their next head coach in July. Club CEO Lance Bradley said: “The fact that we are unable to train yet means that we have more time before we need to appoint a new Head Coach.

“We will be talking to our shortlist over the coming weeks, and plan to make an announcement in early July.”

Bradley also talked to the club’s financial situation, saying: “There are one or two clubs with extremely rich owners who may be less concerned about the financial challenges. Gloucester Rugby, however, is in a better financial situation than many PRL clubs.

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“Having said that, this shutdown has cost the Club a significant amount of money, and we are going to be heavily reliant on our fans’ and business partners’ support to ensure that we’re in the best possible position to be fully competitive going forward.”

The club have been linked to other names, including Leinster’s Stuart Lancaster, but Cockerill is understood to be their primary target.

Prior to joining Edinburgh, the former hooker had a brief stint in Toulon, before taking charge of Edinburgh at the beginning of the 2017/18 season. He has since led a revival in the Scottish capital, with his side sitting top of the Pro14 Conference B before the coronavirus suspension, whilst Leicester Tigers have struggled.

Cockerill had led Leicester Tigers to Premiership success in 2009, 2010 and 2013, with the club reaching the playoffs in each season of his tenure.

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