‘Decision to rebrand Edinburgh’s rugby team not taken lightly’

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill has instilled a 'performance culture' at the Pro14 club. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill has instilled a 'performance culture' at the Pro14 club. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
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Edinburgh managing director Jonny Petrie concedes that the rebranding exercise, which was launched yesterday, might polarise opinion but insisted that it was the right move to “bring the club to life”.

As well as confirming that the capital pro team will move to a new stadium with 3G surface on the back pitches of BT Murrayfield, as first revealed by The Scotsman in February, for the 2019/20 season, subject to planning approval, the club revealed a new badge and intention to revert to the old Edinburgh District colours of blue, with “burnt orange, inspired by the city’s volcanic beginnings at Castle Rock and Arthur’s Seat”.

The name of the club will remain simply as Edinburgh.

The marketing spiel for the new logo, right, said it “retains the three turrets inspired by Edinburgh Castle, the original district badge and the city’s flag and coat of arms. The turrets are presented in a bold and modern shape above the city’s name, with the only new addition to the crest being the year in which representative rugby was established in Edinburgh – 1872.”

Petrie said: “It seems to be the fad at the moment that a number of clubs rebrand and you get some of the pitfalls and it polarises opinion sometimes as well. So, it’s not something we undertake lightly, but we’ve seen with the performance on the field and the transformation of the culture that Cockers [head coach Richard Cockerill] is putting in place and with the stadium development and a number of other things we’ll be talking about over the coming weeks and months as well, there’s a lot of things we’re doing to drive this club forward.

“And it’s the right time, we feel, after a period of study, a period of research, a number of conversations and consultations as well, to do this and for us to take a lead and set out the direction and the way forward for us as a club.”

Petrie revealed the new strip will be unveiled later in the summer, with a first outing in a pre-season friendly against Bath. After one more season back in the unsatisfactory environs of the cavernous national stadium, following the failure of a move to Myreside to increase the routinely sub-4,000 attendances, Petrie is hoping that the upturn of fortunes on the field under Cockerill, plus a drop in ticket prices, will finally awaken an apathetic city to its professional rugby team.

“We’ve clearly had a fairly
nomadic existence over a period of time and the question of where Edinburgh plays its home matches has been on the table for God knows how many years,” said the former Scotland flanker.

“This is the next step in our transformation as a club. It’s been great the work Cockers has done with the performance group during the course of this year, and the way they have performed on the field has been fantastic to see.

“He is someone I clearly work very closely with on all aspects of it. He was quite right when he came in. We’ve had a nomadic existence, an underperforming team and we’re now sorting that out. Yes that is about getting these players to perform. When he came in he didn’t particularly find a performance culture and he’s certainly put one in place. It’s great to marry up what we’ve been doing on the field with what we’re doing off the field. We want this club to come to life in the best way possible.”

Turning his attention to playing matters, Petrie expressed regret that the marquee signing of Scotland skipper John Barclay has been ruled out for up to six months after rupturing his Achilles during his last game for Scarlets in the Pro14 semi-final win at Glasgow.

“First and foremost it has been tremendously disappointing to see John get that injury, but we’ll get him up here and commence his rehab programme and see how quickly we can get him back,” said Petrie.

“It has been tough for us over the course of the last two seasons, latterly with John, and the year before that with Mark Bennett who got injured and was out for a period.”

Petrie said Barclay’s injury hadn’t prompted a rethink in terms of recruitment. “We have a really good crop of back-row talent and we’ll be continuing to work with that group over the next wee while and bring John back to the point where he is playing a big impact,” he said.

“We actually got most of our recruitment done pretty early.
We did a really good job in retaining players and bringing in the ones we wanted. So while we may have one or two bits left to announce, everything is done in the background and there is not anything particularly major we are planning.”

Petrie wouldn’t be drawn on the possibility, floated publicly by Cockerill, that Edinburgh could take one of Glasgow’s scrum-halves – Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos or George Horne – which was given a frosty response by Warriors coach Dave Rennie. “That’s something Cockers has spoken about, it’s not something I’m going to talk about today,” said Petrie.

“We are not in any particularly live discussion around that at the moment, and it’s not something I am particularly pushing at this point.”