Vern Cotter ended his era as he started it, with a scrappy win, if you can count the three years he has had his hand on the Scotland tiller as such. If his side didn’t produce the fireworks that they are capable off, they still did enough to see off an Italian team that spurned every opportunity that came their way.
Scotland managed three wins, they scored a record number of tries in the Six Nations and finished mid-table. The Kiwi coach made a point to the Murrayfield mandarins who showed him the door.
If only briefly “Stern Vern” appeared to show his emotions on the big screen when interviewed immediately after the match but he had composed himself by the time he faced the press. Would he like to talk about his legacy?
“I am not going to talk about legacies,” Cotter slapped his questioner down. “It’s just been really nice to be able to get here and work with good people. I was a supporter before I came here and I’ll be a supporter now that we are moving on but with some additional emotional attachments.”
Scotland skipper John Barclay, sitting beside him, must have been relieved that his second half-trip to the bin had not proved more costly. It should have been but Italy coach Conor O’Shea bewailed his side’s inability to turn pressure into points.
“It is very, very, very hard to take, 29-0,” said the Irishman. “It was an incredible result. There was very little between the two teams in the first half but we missed opportunities.”
Not so long ago Scotland were saying the exact same thing about not converting chances. The Irishman has been whitewashed in his first Six Nations season as Italian coach but he is in good company as he pointed out.
“Vern Cotter was whitewashed in his first season,” said O’Shea, “and we hope to follow his example.”
To do that they will have to show a marked reluctance to talk quite as much as they do. Sergio Parisse was lobbed one question and the Italy No.8 was still answering it five minutes later.
In contrast Cotter proved reluctant to talk about himself even as he makes for the exit. Was he also a little reluctant to join the players in a post match huddle in the middle of Murrayfield?
“Greig [Laidlaw] pulled me along!” Cotter replied with a laugh. “It was really nice. It was something that will stay with me. My daughter was there as well. She found a way to get past the security guard.”
Of what was Cotter most proud?
“Probably not now,” Cotter batted the question away. “Sorry. It wasn’t just me. Everyone has worked hard in this. I have great coaches around me, good people. Supported with medical staff, S&C’s [strength and conditioning], good players, it’s just good to work with people I think and strive to move forward and get better. That is all we have done and now these guys… we’ll look forward to seeing them put the jersey on and get out there and play again.
“It was nice. I had the whole family here watching the game so I just signed off on the three years.
“As I said right from the start it’s been an honour and a privilege to be part of this, to work with such good people and to have good people around me. It would be nice to finish with a win and they did, so yeah, that’s it now, move on.”
And with that, Cotter moved on for the last time.