Mark Dodson: Scottish Rugby chief ‘first class’ – Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill

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Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson has come under fire from a former senior administrator

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill says his own dealings with Mark Dodson have been “first class” amid claims the Scottish Rugby chief executive has created a “toxic” culture.

Former director of domestic rugby Keith Russell made the accusation after winning a case of unfair dismissal.

Cockerill was recruited by Dodson and led Edinburgh to the Pro14 play-offs.

“I take people and organisations as I find them and I’ve had nothing but support,” Cockerill told BBC Scotland.

“I was told what was needed from me and what Edinburgh needed and I’ve been given full support from Mark Dodson and Scott Johnson [Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby] around that.

“Everybody has their own opinion on things. The reality is Scottish rugby has got stronger, both professional teams have got stronger, the financial state of the union has got better and stronger.

“So from my own experience, my own dealings with Mark Dodson and the council have been first class.”

His views were endorsed by Edinburgh managing director Jonny Petrie, the former Scotland back-rower.

“I can only speak to my own experience of working with the executive of Scottish Rugby and from an Edinburgh perspective, from a personal perspective they have been enormously supportive of me and of Edinburgh as a club,” he said.

“We’ve had a very positive relationship and that continues to be in place. And that’s evident in the way we’ve been able to drive this club forward on and off the field and we continue a very healthy relationship.”

Richard Cockerill earned plenty of plaudits for his first season at Edinburgh, but is not satsified

Edinburgh surprised many observers with the speed of their resurgence under Cockerill, reaching the Pro14 play-off quarter-finals, the last eight of the European Challenge Cup and earning a place in next season’s Heineken European Cup.

But the former England hooker insists he remains highly driven to ensure last season was a starting point, rather than the end of the journey.

“All of our problems are not solved after one better season,” he told BBC Scotland. “People have congratulated me over the summer but the way I think of it, we got knocked out in the quarter-finals of the league, and the quarter-finals of the [European] Challenge Cup, and the reality is we finished fifth in the league if you add it all together.

“It was a great stepping stone for us, but I am not sure it is time to congratulate ourselves too much.

“We have still got so much to improve on. We think we have got a better squad now and it is my job to get the best out of it.

Edinburgh beat rivals Glasgow twice at Murrayfield last season

“We have just got to keep working hard and get better again. There was nothing completely broken at this club. It just needed a bit more clear direction, which I hope I have given it.

“I am going to keep driving it – I am a pretty driven individual – and we just need to make sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves.

“I am sure there will be bumps along the road but we are not going to go away. I want to compete not just with Glasgow – even if that rivalry is important, because we are in the same country – but with Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Scarlets.

“From an Edinburgh point of view, in the next three, four, five years, why can’t we compete at the top table on a regular basis? We have got to strive for that.”

Cockerill was speaking on the day the club announced that Principal & Prosper, one of the UK’s largest chartered independent financial advisors, will become their new main sponsor.

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