Mike Blair to step down as Edinburgh Rugby head coach
The former Scotland captain is in his second season in charge but says he wants to pursue his career as an attack coach. Blair, 41, took Edinburgh to the quarter-finals of the United Rugby Championship and Challenge Cup in his first season, during which they also won the Scottish-Italian Shield and 1872 Cup. They played some sparkling attacking rugby, particularly at home, earning the coach many plaudits. But Edinburgh have struggled to recapture that form and have lost six of their last seven league games. They face an uphill battle to make the URC play-offs. By contrast, their performances in Europe have been highly impressive, with wins over Castres (twice) and Saracens securing their place in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup. They will play Leciester Tiger in the last eight next month.
Blair, who succeeded Richard Cockerill as Edinburgh coach in July 2021, said: “My greatest passion is coaching – developing individuals, groups, and the team – to allow them to get the most out of themselves. As a head coach it is very difficult to do this justice because of everything else that comes with the role. For my next role I want to put my energy and knowledge into being a world class attack coach.
“My time as head coach has been a brilliant experience, working with outstanding players, coaches, and management. It is also an all-consuming job, which I have given everything to since being appointed and I’ve learnt a lot about myself and the game during this period. This will be invaluable going forward as I look to continue my development, whilst not ruling out a return to a head coach role in the future.
“Edinburgh Rugby and Scottish Rugby have been incredibly supportive and patient with me while I came to this decision, which I am very grateful for. It has been humbling to lead my home club, so it was an incredibly difficult decision to make. I know this decision may come as a surprise to some people, but I truly believe focusing on my passion will allow me to get the best out of myself and the players I coach.”
Edinburgh will now begin the hunt for Blair’s successor. Stevie Lawrie, the Edinburgh forwards coach, will likely come under consideration. They may also look to Greig Laidlaw, another former Edinburgh scrum-half who is currently playing in Japan.
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