Cockerill and Van der Merwe scoop PRO14 awards
Head Coach Richard Cockerill and winger Duhan van der Merwe have been rewarded for Edinburgh Rugby's impressive year after being voted as Guinness PRO14 Coach and Player's Player of the Season respectively.
The duo scoop both awards after picking up the most votes from their peers, with each Guinness PRO14 club's coach, captain and vice-captain given the opportunity to select a player or coach of their choice in their respective categories.
In a bounce back campaign, Cockerill guided Edinburgh to it's first-ever Guinness PRO14 Semi-Final after topping Conference B ahead of Munster and Scarlets. The capital side won 11 out of 15 fixtures, including landmark victories such as last November's triumph at Irish Independent Park - Edinburgh's first win in Cork in 15 years.
Cockerill's capital transformation has translated into international success too, with 10 Edinburgh players named in Scotland's squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan - highlighting the team's continual development under the Englishman.
On being named 2019-20 Guinness PRO14 Coach of the Season, Cockerill, said: “I’m a little bit surprised, but I’m happy that it gives everybody recognition at Edinburgh Rugby.
"We’ve worked hard in the last three years to build what we’re doing and while it’s always nice to be recognised for an individual award, it’s very much a team effort across the club from the coaching staff, medical team, strength and conditioning guys, that have all worked really hard to do what we’re doing.
“We were obviously hugely disappointed not to reach this year’s Guinness PRO14 Final, but we’re determined as ever to bounce back and drive the club forward in 2020-21.”
Following a scintillating 2019-20 campaign that saw him score 11 tries in 19 appearances, Van der Merwe is named 2019-20 Guinness PRO14 Player's Player of the Season.
The South African-born winger has been a revelation since joining the club in the summer of 2017 and continues to develop his game further. Not just an out and out try-scorer, Van der Merwe finished 2019-20 as the league's leader in metres made, defenders beaten and clean breaks.
One of six Edinburgh players in this year's Guinness PRO14 Dream Team, Van der Merwe, said: “I feel hugely privileged to win this award. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I could achieve something this big and it’s a brilliant feeling knowing that it was voted by the guys I face in the Guinness PRO14 week in, week out.
“Getting an award like this is massive for me and hopefully highlights that the hard work I’ve put in throughout my career is starting to pay off. I genuinely couldn’t have won this without the help of everyone at Edinburgh Rugby and I can’t wait to push the club further next season.”