Cotter's Scotland time coming to an end

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 13:56
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Vern Cotter is disappointed his time as Scotland coach is coming to what he regards as a premature end.

The New Zealander, who took over in 2014, was told by Scottish Rugby Union officials in August that his contract would not be renewed when it expires at the end of this season.

Murrayfield chiefs have instead decided to bring in Gregor Townsend, highly thought of for his work in charge of Glasgow, to the national head coach's position amid fears the former Scotland international could be lost to the country as a result of lucrative offers from English and French clubs.

Cotter, who will himself return to France to join Montpellier at the end of the season, understands the thinking behind the SRU's decision but would have liked slightly longer in post after guiding Scotland to 14 wins in 28 Tests.

Four of those wins, including two in the Six Nations, came last year and Scotland were just one controversial penalty decision away from a place in the 2015 World Cup semifinals before losing in the last eight to Australia.

But next month's Tests at home to Australia, Argentina and Georgia will mark the start of Cotter's last eight games in charge of Scotland.

"I understand [the decision]. As a competitor you're always disappointed if you want to go places and have objectives in mind. That's natural but it's done, we just move on now," said Cotter after announcing his 31-man squad for the November internationals on Tuesday.

"The decision was made to put Gregor in place and I think it's a good decision. The executives made that decision and I respect it.

"The deal is the deal now, so we just get on with the job and get on with these last eight games.

"There will be some emotions but if you look at the big picture it's not about me. It's about Scottish rugby."

He added: "Gregor's done really well for Glasgow. The performances and his management are top shelf. He will do a great job."

Cotter's immediate plans could be disrupted if the five England-based internationals in his squad become unavailable because of a payment row.  

The involvement next month of Greig Laidlaw, the Scotland captain (Gloucester), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Tim Visser (Harlequins), Duncan Taylor (Saracens) and Moray Low (Exeter), who all play for English Premiership clubs has been called into question.

The issue is a dispute between Premiership Rugby Ltd (PRL) - the body which represents English club sides - and the SRU over an outstanding £400,000 ($489,000) injury compensation bill.

But Cotter, previously in charge of French club Clermont, was confident the five players would be available to Scotland next month despite threats their clubs would block them from international duty.

"The fact of the matter is you can't deny people the opportunity to play Test match footy," said Cotter.

"It may be frustrating when you have players coming back to your club injured but international rugby matches are important fixtures and it is pretty tough to deprive players of the opportunity to play for their country.

"But there are smart people involved and I'm sure it will all get sorted out."


November 12: Scotland v Australia, Murrayfield 

November 19: Scotland v Argentina, Murrayfield 

November 26: Scotland v Georgia, Rugby Park, Kilmarnock 

Agence France-Presse