Rugby World Cup 2015: Scotland coach Vern Cotter signs on until 2017

Kiwi extends contract with Scottish Rugby Union, predicts exciting times for a generation of talented players

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Vern Cotter (c) will remain at BT Murrayfield until 2017 Photo: Jason O'Callaghan

Scotland have received a huge boost ahead of the Rugby World Cup next month with head coach Vern Cotter extending his stay in Edinburgh for until 2017 – a one-year extension.

The 53-year-old, who turned Clermont Auvergne into one of Europe’s premier teams, was a much-heralded arrival at BT Murrayfield last summer following the dismal interim leadership of Scott Johnson.

There are some talented players with some things to develop, and together we are focused on facing that challenge in what I think are exciting times for Scottish rugby all over.

Vern Cotter

With Scotland’s two professional club sides seeing an upturn in fortunes last season – Glasgow Warriors won the Guinness PRO12 and Edinburgh reached the final of the European Challenge Cup – the potential is there for Scotland to become a force to be reckoned with.

While the Kiwi has already won plaudits for at least improving some elements of Scottish Rugby, the Dark Blues have slipped to a lowly 12th in the World Rugby rankings ahead of their first Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Ireland – ranked number two – on Saturday afternoon.

But he is confident that these are exciting times for Scottish rugby.

“I’m really happy to be able to continue working with the players, the organisation, the board, and everyone involved,” Cotter said.

“There are some talented players with some things to develop, and together we are focused on facing that challenge in what I think are exciting times for Scottish rugby all over.

“There’s a generation of players coming all the way from the new BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academies, Scotland under-20s and the pro clubs into the national team and I’m pleased to be part of that.”

The New Zealander’s rein started well in June 2014 with three wins from his first three matches on a globetrotting summer tour that took in the USA, Canada and Argentina, but it ended with a crushing 55-6 defeat to South Africa in Port Elizabeth.

When we recruited him he was the outstanding candidate for the role and that view has not changed.

SRU CEO Mark Dodson

Scotland bounced back to defeat Argentina again at BT Murrayfield last November in a high-scoring game before losing to the All Blacks after a conceding a late try.

There was a return to optimism when the Dark Blues took their new brand of high-tempo, attacking rugby to Kilmarnock where they comfortably defeated Tonga.

But any dreams of immediate glory when it mattered was short-lived as Scotland were whitewashed in the RBS Six Nations earlier this year, concluded with a 40-10 defeat to defending champions Ireland at BT Murrayfield.

Despite that disappointing run of defeats, Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson still believes that Cotter is the right man to take them forward.

“I am very pleased we will be extending Vern’s role as Scotland Head Coach for a further year,” Dodson said.

“When we recruited him he was the outstanding candidate for the role and that view has not changed.

“The work he is doing with our young, talented squad of players has taken the team forward and we can now deliver continuity for the national team well beyond the Rugby World Cup 2015.”

Putting their Six Nations nightmare behind them, Scotland continue with their dual strategy of preparing for next month’s Rugby World Cup – where they face Japan, the USA, Samoa and South Africa in Pool B – and their long-term aims to bring more success to Scottish rugby.

Despite the announcement of Cotter’s long-term stay in the Scottish capital, he insists that next month’s showpiece across the border is their focus right now.

“The culture of rugby is strong in this country and it’s important that passion is reflected in the performances of the national team,” he added.

“We take great pride in the honour that represents and, while it’s pleasing to be in a position to plan longer term, our focus is absolutely fixed on preparing for the Rugby World Cup.”

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