Six Nations: Vern Cotter agrees to shut roof for Wales clash

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter at Edinburgh Airport before leaving for Cardiff. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS/SRU
Scotland head coach Vern Cotter at Edinburgh Airport before leaving for Cardiff. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS/SRU
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Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has agreed for the roof to be closed at the Principality Stadium for tomorrow’s RBS Six Nations match against Wales in Cardiff.

Home coach Warren Gatland is always keen to play ‘indoors’ but competition rules, which the Welsh are keen to have changed, currently require both teams to agree to it.

However, in a move welcomed by his compatriot counterpart Gatland yesterday, Cotter said he was happy for the roof to be shut as Scotland look to bounce back from last weekend’s opening home 15-9 defeat to England.

After announcing a team which includes just one enforced change from last Saturday’s game – Saracens centre Duncan Taylor coming in for Matt Scott who has a thigh injury – Cotter said: “Yes, we’d like it shut.”

When asked for his reasoning, the Kiwi replied drily: “In case it rains.”

Cotter went on to elaborate. “We would like to be able to play the game, we’d like to be able to hang on to the ball,” he said.

“If we can compete on the ground, if it’s a dry ball, a dry track, that suits us. For everything, for the whole day, it’s a more enjoyable day.”

Gatland described Cotter’s comments as “great” and added: “It means the weather is not going to come into play, the atmosphere is going to be brilliant, with a sell-out crowd and we are excited about it. By the looks of it, both teams want to go out and play some rugby.”

Cotter revealed that Scott had suffered his injury at training on Wednesday. “Matt decelerated and felt something in his thigh,” he said. “He went for a scan this [Thursday] morning and it’s a slight tear.

“Because it’s a slight tear, if this was the last game, we could strap him up and get him to play but we’ve got other games coming up and we’re hoping he’ll be available for Italy.”

As Taylor moves up into the starting XV his place on the bench is taken by cap centurion Sean Lamont. Beyond that, the same squad of players have been given the responsibility of making amends for the Calcutta Cup disappointment.

After slipping to their eighth consecutive Six Nations defeat last weekend the pressure is on Scotland to somehow find a way of halting that desperate run, but facing Wales in Cardiff is always a formidable test.

“It’s good to be able to get back and have a game to review and prepare to get better for the next one,” said Cotter yesterday ahead of the squad’s departure for the Welsh capital.

“The weather has been a bit better this week so we’ve spent more time on our skills. That’s always nice.

“But, once again, it’s about getting back the combinations that we think will work – the ability to pass to each other without having to speak. That type of thing, it’s important to spend time together.”

Wales fought back from 13-0 down in Dublin last Sunday to earn a 16-16 draw with champions Ireland and Cotter knows tomorrow presents a huge challenge.

He added: “Wales are capable of playing a power game through their forwards, in close with [centre] Jamie Roberts and they can move it wide, as they did against Ireland, with their back players. They can find space after tightening it up with players like Roberts.

“When Roberts starts hitting us, we’ve got to make sure we keep our width and keep our eyes up. We want to be competitive for as long as possible.”

Scotland last won in Cardiff in 2002.