Fiji’s recent announcement that Vern Cotter will become their new head coach has caused the rugby world to take notice. 

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The former Scotland head coach will stay with his current club Montpellier until the end of the season before teaming up with Fiji, taking over from John McKee. 

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.

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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.

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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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