Vern Cotter’s highs ... and lows

Scotland coach Vern Cotter reacts after the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Italy at Murrayfield . Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Scotland coach Vern Cotter reacts after the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and Italy at Murrayfield . Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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The highlights and lowlights of Vern Cotter’s time in charge of Scotland

HIGHLIGHTS:

1 Instant attacking intent: Vern Cotter’s first match at Murrayfield offered a taster of what was to come as Scotland cut loose and ran in five tries against Argentina. The two Gray brothers were on the scoresheet but the other three tries went to wide men, Tommy Seymour, Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg. Scotland were an attacking force to be reckoned with. 2 So near and yet to far

The 2015 World Cup quarter-final was both Cotter’s best and worst moment in charge of Scotland. No-one gave his side a snowball’s but they came within a minute of bettering the Wallabies, who went on to lose the final, until South African referee Craig Joubert’s late mistake. Cotter’s dignity in the face of such injustice was surely a better measure of the man than any rugby result.

2 So near and yet to far: The 2015 World Cup quarter-final was both Cotter’s best and worst moment in charge of Scotland. No-one gave his side a snowball’s but they came within a minute of bettering the Wallabies, who went on to lose the final, until South African referee Craig Joubert’s late mistake. Cotter’s dignity in the face of such injustice was surely a better measure of the man than any rugby result.

3 A winning record

Until now Scotland had only once registered three wins in the Six Nations (back in 2006 under Frank Hadden) but Cotter has equalled that record this season with Scotland moving to a high point of fifth in World Rugby’s food chain. He leaves with the following Test record: Played: 36. Won: 19. Lost: 17, which gives him with a 53 per cent winning record. Those figures might not impress in the coach’s native New Zealand but they top Scotland’s bill in the professional era.

...AND LOWLIGHTS:

1 Opening whitewash

A Six Nations whitewash in his first season was not what anyone was hoping or expecting, but the Kiwi only had himself to blame as he underestimated Italy and replaced key players, including skipper Greig Laidlaw, late in the game. Ireland arrived at Murrayfield needing a big score to secure the championship. They got it.

2 Resources stretched

In only his fourth match in charge Cotter fielded a scratch Scotland team – Adam Ashe was called up on his way home from New Zealand – against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth. The result was a hopelessly one sided, eight tries to nil, 55-6 hammering and Peter Horne was seriously injured into the bargain.

3 Reality check

This Scotland squad has progressed on Cotter’s watch but the recent Calcutta Cup shellacking was a timely reminder of how far they still have to travel to close the gap with the best in the world. Scotland froze in the face of an England display that was aggressive and ruthlessly efficient.