Fiji’s recent announcement that Vern Cotter will become their new head coach has caused the rugby world to take notice.
Cotter needs no introduction in the northern hemisphere, particularly in Scotland having almost guided them to a World Cup semi-final in 2015 save for a cruel last-minute penalty. The decision to ever let the Kiwi leave is still something that is rued across Scotland.
Domestically, he guided Clermont to their first-ever Top 14 title during his time as head coach at the Stade Marcel-Michelin, having already won two Super Rugby titles as forwards coach of the Crusaders.
This is deemed as a huge appointment for Fiji, having shown at the RWC what they are capable of. With a host of world-class talent at their disposal and a spell-binding style of play, Fiji pushed both Australia and Wales in their pool.
He could potentially turns the Fijians into the rugby powerhouse they deserve to be
— Errol Samuel (@iamerrolsamuel) January 28, 2020
Great appointment for the Flying Fijians, he did a great job with Scotland, and should have had a bit longer in role with them too.
— Doug the Prop? (@DougProp) January 28, 2020
What a moment for Fijian rugby! To pull in a coach of this status is fantastic. He is a master at structuring and disciplining teams to get the best out of them, which is the exact thing the Fijians need now. Fiji: RWC quarter finalists 2023. https://t.co/PLn74TNFNz
— Rugby's Hot Take Central (@RugbyHotTakes) January 28, 2020
Time will tell how he goes but from watching the teams he's coached before, @Scotlandteam and Montpellier in the top 14 I have faith that he'll be able to take @fijirugby to another level. https://t.co/fSEIPaRP0Q
— RLesi (@lesiropate) January 28, 2020
Equally, they also suffered a shocking loss to Uruguay, albeit after resting much of their squad, which was an indication of their inconsistency.
No coach would seek to curtail the flair and freedom with which Fiji play, but many see Cotter as a coach that can implement a structure and discipline to their game, particularly up front. This could help them become a force in rugby that many feel they are capable of being.
if he is given the time and resources… oh my word Fiji could dominate rugby over the next few years! surely they need to be in the Rugby Championship ASAP and World Rugby need to make National Breaks in the calendar and put pressure on clubs from all leagues to release players https://t.co/6dTXddJqaH
— George Ross (@GeorgeRoss25) January 28, 2020
Great news. Flying Fijians on the brink of competing consistently with the big boys
— Simon andrew (@allrugby87) January 28, 2020
Can see it now… Scotland get put out at next World Cup by Fiji. Seriously though, how frightening will Fiji be with a bit more organisation and discipline added to their game. https://t.co/NOZ5xoDTjf
— Ross Watters (@rosswatters92) January 28, 2020
Having the opportunity to appoint a coach of Cotter’s pedigree is also a statement by Fiji that they want to break into the top tier of the game.
This would, of course, be helped by joining the Rugby Championship, rather than having to make do with odd fixtures throughout the year. But Cotter will help them consistently prove that they deserve to be competing with the top nations.
Cotter worked wonders with Scotland with only a year’s preparation ahead of the 2015 RWC. With over three years before the 2023 tournament, the rugby world will be eager to see what Fiji can achieve.
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