"We'll relish the challenge" - Cockerill on 2020-21 Champions Cup
Head Coach Richard Cockerill says Edinburgh will ‘relish the challenge’ as the capital side were today drawn against Sale Sharks and La Rochelle in the new look 2020-21 Champions Cup pool stage.
Edinburgh will face the English Premiership and Top 14 clubs both home and away – with back-to-back rounds set to take place in December and January – in a bid to secure a place in the knockout stages of the competition.
Sale Sharks are a side Cockerill knows all too well, having coached against them in the English Premiership, as well as hosting them in pre-season back in August 2017.
“Sale have got a very strong South African contingent and enjoyed a good season last year,” said Cockerill.
“They have strength across the squad and probably would have made a Premiership Semi-Final if it hadn’t been for their situation regarding Covid-19.
“I know Steve Diamond really well and obviously played against him as a player and coached against him in the Premiership.
“They’re a good side that have recruited pretty heavily, but very well, and they are always going to be a tough team to play against.”
Edinburgh will also face Top 14 flyers La Rochelle who currently sit in third place in the French Championship, winning four out of five games so far this season.
With genuine stars such as stand-off Jules Plisson and All Black Victor Vito among their ranks, Edinburgh will once again go head-to-head with a star-studded French club having come up against Toulon and Montpellier during the 2018-19 campiagn.
“I coached against them (La Rochelle) in the Semi-Final of the French Championship three years ago. They’re a really strong side and Jono Gibbes is obviously the Director of Rugby there and is doing a really good job.
“They have a lot of very good players and they’ve continued to grow and compete at the highest level in the Top 14. Like all French clubs, they’ve got a really good home record and it will be a huge test for us when we travel to Stade Marcel Deflandre.
“If you’re in the Champions Cup, you’re always going to be coming up against the best teams in Europe and as a club we’re relishing the challenge.”
The exact dates of the club’s Champions Cup fixtures, with venues, kick-off times and TV coverage, will be announced in due course following consultation with clubs and EPCR’s broadcasters.