Wilson will be dis­cussed at SRU after con­vic­tion

Coach ex­pects pas­sion­ate re­sponse from Les Blues in wake of Paris ter­ror at­tacks

The Herald - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - ALAS­DAIR REID

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.”

Pic­ture: Getty Images

PRIZE GUYS: Greig Laid­law and Vern Cot­ter pose with the RBS 6 Na­tions trophy dur­ing yes­ter­day’s launch at the Hurling­ham club in London.

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