LIFE during lockdown may have been trying for those rugby players who were suddenly deprived of their activity of choice, but spare a thought for the coaches as well. They might not have missed out on the sheer physicality that the players enjoy, but they too are just as delighted to be back at the coal face.

Take Richard Cockerill. According to Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally, the head coach was as eager as anyone to get down to business when training was able to resume, and has set the tone for a regime which places equal emphasis on safety precautions and the usual hard graft.

“He was desperate to get on with it,” McInally explained of Cockerill. “He’s definitely been the driving force in making sure that the day we were allowed to start lineouts, we started them. He doesn’t want us to fall behind: he wants us to squeeze in every minute that we can in the training time that we’ve got.

“Yeah, he’s very enthusiastic to get us back training as much as we can. But obviously he’s not going to put our health in danger as well, which is comforting. 

“He’s always been a really hands-on coach and he’s coached for a long time now - I think this is the longest he’s ever not coached,” the forward continued. “The day that we were allowed to come in and do a gym session - he wasn’t even allowed to train with us, but he was there just to chat with everyone and wanting to see what shape boys were in. One of our fitness drills is one he came up with, and he came in on one of his days and practised the drills. 

“He’s so enthusiastic and he loves to be on the pitch the whole time at training. He was actually very good at the start, in making sure that we were obeying all the rules. It’s obviously ramping up a bit now because we’re allowed to.” 

That ramping-up is set to continue as Edinburgh’s first game against Glasgow looms. For the time being, though, Cockerill’s emphasis has been on refamiliarisation with the basics. Getting to grips with more match-specific information can wait for a little longer.

“At the moment it’s like a pre-season, because we’re still three weeks away,” McInally concluded. “There’s been no chat about Glasgow at the moment - it’s just about getting ourselves ready to play rugby again. I’ve got no doubt that will come in the next couple of weeks.”