In terms of maintaining interest the much-criticised Conference system introduced by Pro14 organisers this season proved well-conceived and while that looked to have been spoiled by a final day’s schedule that owed more to commercial opportunism that competitive integrity, the 1872 Challenge Cup decider provided the finale to a highly entertaining day’s rugby.

Richard Cockerill, Edinburgh’s head coach who has vast experience of both the English and French games, had been quite right to point out that while it worked to his team’s advantage, there was something deeply unfair about the staggering of the day’s matches.

As it began Edinburgh could conceivably have earned a home quarter-final in the unlikely event of the defending champion Scarlets losing to the struggling Dragons on a day which saw all four Welsh teams in action at their national stadium, but also knew that if Ulster managed to pick a bonus point while winning at Munster, they would have to take at least a point from their meeting with Glasgow Warriors to secure a first-ever place in both the play-offs and the European Champions Cup that has been rebranded since they last qualified for what was then the Heineken Cup five years ago.

That looked ever more likely with the latest reminder that the Irish tend to view the domestic tournament as a development competition, when Munster made 14 changes to the side that lose a Champions Cup semi-final the previous weekend. Taken in the context of what had happened when the Scarlets did something similar a fortnight earlier and saw their second team ripped to shreds in Edinburgh, that looked to ensure that Ulster would get that required full house. 

However, thinking so was to under-estimate the pride of the Munstermen in their record at Thomond Park and for all that their visitors looked set to get the desired result when they ended the first half by scoring a third try to move into a 24-14 lead, they fought to the death not only to deny them their crucial fourth, but to secure a draw which means it will be Edinburgh heading to visit them next weekend rather than Ulster. 

It was impossible not to conclude that they drew added motivation from the alternatives confronting them, doubtless viewing an Ulster side led by Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning captain Rory Best as a more dangerous proposition than an Edinburgh team that has never reached the knockout stages since they were introduced eight years ago.

Cockerill was under no illusions about that, acknowledging that Munster should win next weekend’s quarter-final if they make the most of home advantage and play to their potential but, just as he did when repeatedly observing that Glasgow Warriors was the team with the reputation to live up to ahead of the 1872 Cup decider, he said his men have the capacity to “make them sweat”.

The lack of deference to those with superior reputations that he has encouraged played a part as they twice came from behind to reclaim the trophy with a 24-19 win. As when Glasgow visited the capital earlier in the season, they looked set to impose themselves early on in claiming 7-0 and 14-7 leads in the opening quarter or so of the match, the second of their tries an instant response to conceding Edinburgh’s first.

While it looked at that stage as if DTH van der Merwe was going to mark his 100th appearance for the Warriors in style after scoring their opener, he was ultimately upstaged by namesake Duhan, whose touchdown put his team in front for the first time on the stroke of half-time.

All notions of governing bodies having given instructions to the teams they own to concoct desired outcomes could be disregarded given the intensity of the contests, extending to off-the-ball scraps on either side of the Irish Sea that would have been beyond the skills of WWE’s finest choreographers, albeit the question no longer arose in Scotland once Edinburgh knew they were already through.

Cockerill could take huge satisfaction from that, then and while his reservations about the order of play on the final day remain wholly valid, we can all now look forward to the next stage in the PRO14’s experimentation this season with some confidence, given the success of a format that ensured so much was at stake on the final weekend of the league season.