Russell leads the tributes
Stand-off emphasises players’ respect for New Zealander as coach and man. By Stuart Bathgate
IT IS one measure of the good work done by Vern Cotter in his three years in charge of Scotland that some players who had not even played a Test before then are now firmly established as front-rank internationals. At the end of the New Zealander’s final game at the helm, it was fitting that one of those players, Finn Russell, should pay tribute to the head coach.
The stand-off scored one of Scotland’s four tries in the 29-0 rout of Italy and added three conversions, as well as showing his usual enthusiasm for the defensive chores.
Russell and his team-mates had been told all week that they were not to indulge in chat about giving Cotter a suitable send-off, but with that final encounter out of the way he was more than happy to do so. “It was good going out there and sending him off as well as we could have,” Russell said. “He’s done so well for the team – it’s disappointing seeing him going, but we had a good game today so hopefully he’s happy with that.
“The sort of coach and the man he is, we have so much respect for him that it was a good game to send him off. We’ve grown so much in the last three years.
“Although the coaches are changing, I’d imagine the team will stay the same: we have a good core of players.”
With so many of them playing for Glasgow Warriors, Russell included, there will be a strong element of continuity when Gregor Townsend moves from Scotstoun to Murrayfield in the summer.
“Gregor will bring new things in and he’ll try and adapt what’s here a little bit,” Russell added. “The Glasgow boys will know what’s to come; the other boys will have to learn pretty quickly. But having the core boys here, it’ll still be a good, strong team and hopefully we’ll be able to build on that with Gregor coming in.”
Cotter himself was quietly satisfied with the solid performance that saw him end his time as Scotland coach with a winning record. Having recorded 19 victories and 17 defeats, he is the first coach of the national team in the professional era to have more than a 50 per cent success rate.
“I’m very pleased, coming from a game at Twickenham that didn’t fall our way, to keep a team tryless,” he said. “The three wins is great. It’s a reflection of the work