Wilson will be discussed at SRU after conviction
Coach expects passionate response from Les Blues in wake of Paris terror attacks
VERN Cotter, the Scotland coach, will meet the Scottish Rugby Union board today to discuss the future of Ryan Wilson, the Glasgow Warriors forward who earlier this week was found guilty of attacking two Glasgow Hawks players after an argument in a fast-food shop.
Wilson, 25, was fined a total of £750 for punching Ally Maclay and pulling Gavin Quinn to the floor in an incident in October 2013. In the wake of his conviction, the Union suspended Wilson while they considered “what further action is appropriate”.
In the same trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court, the charge of assault against Scotland and Warriors prop Ryan Grant was found not proven, as it was in the case against Warriors winger Rory Hughes.
Cotter might have been tempted to call Wilson into his Six Nations squad, but it is highly improbable that the governing body would agree. It is more likely that Grant, who was left out of the training squad while the trial went on, will be allowed to return.
With Scotland’s Six Nations opener against France just nine days away, Cotter said he was happy with the progress Stuart Hog has made in recovery. He also indicated he would not seek to call up another player to cover for Sean Maitland, who was ruled out by a shoulder problem on Tuesday.
THE febrile atmosphere of the Stade de France will be charged with extra emotion when Scotland take to the pitch for their RBS 6 Nations Championship opener at the Paris ground in nine days’ time.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre revealed yesterday that he expects the Charlie Hebdo shootings three weeks ago to provoke a poignant but defiant response from the crowd in the French capital as the nation pulls together with another show of solidarity.
“The Marseillaise [anthem] before Scotland will be quite emotional with what has happened to our country in the last few weeks,” said Saint-Andre. “We fight, we stick together, we chant the Marseillaise and we play rugby together.”
France captain Thierry Dusautoir backed up his coach’s sentiments. The former world player of the year wrote an emotional blog after the Paris events and he explained that he had particularly strong reasons for feeling as he did.
Dusautoir said: “I tried to express my feelings at that moment. I was very emotional and shocked, like a lot of people.
“I am mixed race. My father is white, my mother is black. I think different cultures can live together. France is a good example of this and I hope that will continue.”
Vern Cotter, the Scotland coach who spent a number of years in France as a player and, later, as coach of Clermont Auvergne, said that the terrorist killings had moved everybody in the country and that he expected France to play with added level of passion and determination.
“The indications are that they are going to use this occasion to bring the country together after the difficulties they have had,” said the New Zealander. “They will be up for it emotionally.”
Cotter has earned a solid pass mark in his first eight months as Scotland coach, guiding the side to five wins from seven matches during his time in charge. However, all of those victories were over sides below Scotland in the world rankings, while four of their next five opponents are ranked higher. Despite that, and especially in light of impressive performances in the November internationals, Cotter said he had no concerns about overconfidence among his players.
“There were some good things in the autumn,” Cotter suggested. “I was really pleased with how the guys played. Their attitude on the paddock, their positive attitude to take the ball, run, move and score points and enjoy it.
“We want to try and do the same thing but this is a different competition and tactically we may look at different options. It will be a tough Six Nations, especially with that hard first game against France.
“One of the really strong characteristics of Scottish people is that they are grounded. False dawns are things that have been written up in the media. We know that the Six Nations is tough, that the teams are ranked ahead of us and that it will be a battle.”
Between injuries, court cases and controversial call-ups, Cotter has not had to seek trouble lately. Squeezed into his SRU suit and in the baleful glare of the media spotlight at yesterday’s tournament launch at London’s up-market Hurlingham Club, it would be pushing it to say that he appeared to be enjoying his first official engagement as a Six Nations coach.
In one sense, though, he was in familiar surroundings, as three of the six competing countries now have New Zealanders at the helm. Cotter used to play against Wales coach Warren Gatland in their native country’s provincial championship, while Joe Schmidt of Ireland was his assistant at Clermont.
Asked about this Kiwification of the European coaching scene, Cotter suggested that, as a late arrival to the Test scene, he was not yet in the same league as his countrymen. “The other two are good coaches,” he smiled, “I wouldn’t say I am.
“I don’t know why it has happened. I can talk about global markets and suchlike, but I just know that Joe and Gatts are good coaches. Their results have shown that. It’s just the way it turned out.”
On the matter of another New Zealander, however, he was rather more forthcoming. Last week’s fast- tracking into the Scotland squad of former Otago flanker Hugh Blake caused an outcry, with many believing that the move was a slap in the face for home-based players.
However, Cotter mounted a stout defence both of his countryman and his own decision to bring the 22-yearold into the squad before he had even played a game for Edinburgh, the side Blake joined on a trial basis two months ago.
Cotter said: “He’s a good player and we will be assessing him over the weeks to come. I had spoken to Hugh and he was a Scotsman living in NZ if you like. He has family over here and he made the decision to come and he is very proud of his heritage.
“He was selected to play for the under-20s in New Zealand because he was good enough. The All Blacks only tap into that under-20 group after they have been through a rigorous selection process. We were lucky to have someone who had been through that to be available to us.”
PRIZE GUYS: Greig Laidlaw and Vern Cotter pose with the RBS 6 Nations trophy during yesterday’s launch at the Hurlingham club in London.