SUVA – Former Scotland coach Vern Cotter on Tuesday was named the new head coach of the Fiji rugby team.
New Zealand-born Cotter succeeds Australian John McKee, who was head coach from 2014 and whose contract ended in December.
Cotter coached French club Clermont to the Top 14 title in 2010 after leading it to the final in three previous seasons. He has coached Montpellier in France since 2017, guiding it to the Top 14 final in 2018. His contract at Montpellier ends in June, ahead of Fiji’s first test of the season against Tonga on July 4.
Cotter had a 53 percent success rate in his four years as Scotland head coach, winning 19 of his 36 matches in charge. But that was the best record of any Scotland national coach since Ian McGeechan left the role in 1993 and included home wins over Wales and Ireland in the 2016 Six Nations tournament.
“Following an extensive recruitment process with many outstanding applications, the board is pleased to have secured such an exceptional candidate in Vern Cotter for the top job of Flying Fijians head coach,” Fiji Rugby Union chairman Francis Kean said.
“Mr. Cotter presented a thorough and detailed plan to take the team to new levels of success and we were impressed by his vision and expectations of what can be achieved by the program.”
Cotter wasn’t present Tuesday at the news conference at which it was announced he has been signed to a three-year contract.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to coach the Flying Fijians and to be involved in the development of Rugby in Fiji,” he said in a statement.
Cotter has a strong knowledge of Fiji’s top players, having coached Nemani Nadolo, Nemani Nagusa, Napolioni Nalaga and Sitiveni Sivivatu during his time in France.
“Fiji Rugby has come a long way in the last few years and I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with the talent within the national teams and enhance the competitiveness of Fiji on the world stage,” he said.
Fiji had a disappointing World Cup in Japan last year, winning only one of its pool matches and losing to Uruguay.
“It is no secret we were disappointed with the results from the 2019 Rugby World Cup and with the appointment of Vern Cotter we hope to see the Flying Fijians produce the success we believe they are capable of achieving,” Kean said.
“We are committed to support this new head coach with the resources he needs to manage a high performance program that develops the widespread talent available in order to progress Fiji Rugby back up the world rugby rankings.”