WHEN the PRO14 published their plan for a resumption of the season earlier this month, one detail was conspicuous by its absence: the venue for the Grand Final, due to take place on 12 September. With a consensus apparently still to be reached, Richard Cockerill, for one, believes there is a fair and obvious way of reaching a decision - by awarding home advantage to the finalists with the higher seeding.

The Cardiff City Stadium was due to host the final last weekend before the pandemic forced a cancellation. Dublin’s Aviva Stadium was then earmarked to be the host, and that remains a strong possibility. But Cockerill thinks that if his own team go through as top seeds - which would mean Leinster had been knocked out in the semi-finals - it is only just that the final be staged at BT Murrayfield.

With two rounds of derbies to be played at the end of August as a way of rounding off the regular season, Conference A leaders Leinster are already assured of a play-off spot. Undefeated this season, they would then have a home semi-final against the Conference B runners-up, currently Munster. 

Edinburgh, two points clear of Munster in Conference B, would almost certainly be at home in the other semi to Ulster, who are nine points ahead of Glasgow in Conference A. Health and safety considerations will be paramount, of course, but, with either a small crowd or no crowd in attendance, both Murrayfield and the Aviva could host the final at short notice.

“I think whichever team goes into the final as top seeds should get to host it,” Cockerill said on Friday. “For example, if we finish top and go into a semi-final, that semi-final should be played at BT Murrayfield.

“That would take Munster to Dublin [to face Leinster]. If Munster could win that, then we would go into the final as the top seeds having finished first in the Conference.

“But let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. There’s a chance we could play a home final at BT Murrayfield because we’d have earned the right, but there’s some good sides still left. Glasgow still have an opportunity of making it, as slim as it might seem. I’m just happy for Edinburgh to be mixing it with that calibre of teams.

“I haven’t been told anything official in terms of the final, but that’s obviously what I’m hoping for in terms of how they’d organise it. I think it’s a fair and just way of doing it.”

With two games against their Scottish rivals to come, the Warriors have a better chance of dashing Edinburgh’s hopes of a home semi than they do of reaching the last four themselves. The double derby will be Danny Wilson’s first games in charge of Glasgow since taking over as head coach from Dave Rennie, and Cockerill believes the new man has what it takes to maintain the Warriors’ status as one of the leading sides in the competition.

“I certainly don’t see them being any weaker with Danny there at all. He’s a very good coach and he’ll put his spin on how he wants them to play, along with [new attack coach] Jonny Bell, who’s a very good coach as well. They should feel pretty positive about what they’ve got and what they can do.

“Like all coaches, I think they’ll have a slightly different slant on how they do things. That’s only natural. They’ve got a strong squad and the basis of a very good team. Danny will go in and put his own twist on it.

“He’s an experienced coach. He’s come through the pathway different to most people. He worked his way through.

“He’s a good coach and I’ve obviously spent a lot of time with him around the national team. Even now, dare I say it, we’ve had a few conversations about things as the coaches of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“He’s a hooker by trade and a forwards coach, so you’d expect maybe a pragmatic sort of style, but he’s still got a lot of X-Factor in that team. Glasgow are always a very good side and they play a good brand of rugby which has been successful for them. They’re always in and around the play-offs, semis and finals.”

To reach the last four, Glasgow would need two bonus-point wins against their fellow-Scots and rely on Ulster taking nothing from their two games. The Irish derbies have yet to be decided. 

Edinburgh need just a point to guarantee a semi-final, but must beat Glasgow twice - at least once with a bonus - to be sure of finishing top. “ I expect us to be competing for a semi-final, and if we can get to a semi-final why can’t we beat Leinster or Ulster?,” Cockerill concluded. “It will be tough, wherever we play them, but there’s no reason we can’t win those games if we get it right.”