THE end of a Rugby World Cup is always a time for the participating unions to have a post-mortem, not only to assess how their teams have performed, but also to look at the wider picture domestically. After all, national sides do not exist in a vacuum, but are the product of the rugby environment from which they are drawn. And, before a union embarks on its next four-year plan, it needs to decide how to deal with any weaknesses which may have been exposed.

So who within our own game has emerged with his stock enhanced over the past six weeks or so? Not national coach Gregor Townsend, whose reputation could take some time to recover from the failure of his Scotland team to rise to the occasion in their biggest match for four years, the pool game against Ireland. Not any of his senior players either: not captain Stuart McInally, dropped to the bench for the match against Japan; not vice-captains John Barclay or Greig Laidlaw.

And, looking at that bigger picture to take in our two professional sides, not Dave Rennie either. The Glasgow Warriors head coach has had a difficult start to the PRO14 season with his team losing three of their first four games, and, perhaps more relevantly, now appears certain to leave the scene after this season in order to take over the Wallabies. Whatever he does for the rest of this campaign – and it is still perfectly possible that he will lead a rejuvenated Warriors side into the play-offs – Rennie will surely become a more marginal figure the closer his departure date gets.

Who does that leave? A couple of players certainly grew in stature over the four-game campaign in Japan, notably Jamie Ritchie and Magnus Bradbury. But the single person whose standing in the game has grown is surely those two forwards’ coach at Edinburgh, Richard Cockerill.

This is partly by negation: if your peers are having problems while you are holding your own, you will always be thought more highly of by outside observers. But there are also two or three other positive factors which have made Cockerill a more influential figure within Scottish rugby – and which could well see him in the shake-up to be the next Scotland coach if and when Townsend moves on.

Most significantly, he has recovered from a difficult second season in charge of Edinburgh to begin this one in impressive fashion. His team have won three of their four games, and last week against Scarlets in particular showed that their new, more expansive style is paying off, as they ran in seven tries against previously unbeaten opponents.

It was telling, too, that after the 46-7 victory, centre Matt Scott explained that Cockerill had needed some persuading before accepting that it was time to adopt a more adventurous game plan. Telling, because it shows that Cockerill is a pragmatic coach who is willing to adapt to his players’ strengths, and is a big enough personality to accept that those players have a right to influence important team decisions.

You could also argue it is no coincidence that it was two of Cockerill’s players, Ritchie and Bradbury, who rose to the occasion so impressively while more experienced team-mates failed to do so. Although, to be fair, quite a few other Edinburgh players were in that under-achieving category, so the coach cannot be credited with a uniformly positive influence on the national squad.

But make no mistake, Cockerill takes a keen interest in what that national squad is doing. Between Scotland’s defeat by Ireland and their next pool game against Russia, for example, he spoke eloquently at a press conference about the mentality they would have to adopt to recover from the blow of that loss. He talked a lot about self-belief and the need to have faith in your own abilities, and although he was wide of the mark when predicting that Scotland would win their next three games because they were better than their opponents, he spoke a lot of sense.

Still only 48, Cockerill has energy to burn and ambition aplenty, and particularly if Edinburgh continue to make progress this season, his services will be widely in demand. A decade ago another Englishman, Andy Robinson, went from coaching Edinburgh to coaching Scotland. In another eight or nine months or so, that same step may well seem the obvious one for Cockerill to make as well.