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Wales advised to consider Vern Cotter as successor to Gatland

By Peter Jackson

Wales are being advised to consider Vern Cotter as their new head coach.

Mike Ruddock, the only Welshman to oversee a Grand Slam since Clive Rowlands 40 seasons ago, has urged the WRU to add Cotter to their all-New Zealand short list in the global search for Warren Gatland’s successor.

“Vern is definitely one who should be considered,’’ Ruddock said. “He is a class act.”

Cotter’s revival of the Scots gave him a higher win ratio than any of his predecessors during the pro era. Since being superseded by Gregor Townsend, the 55-year-old Kiwi has steered Montpellier into first place in the Top 14.

Wales have been forced to amend their list of contenders following Dai Young’s decision to accept a long-term contract with Wasps, as revealed by The Rugby Paper last week. Scarlets’ head coach Wayne Pivac is now understood to have been put alongside fellow Kiwis Dave Rennie and Chris Boyd.

Cotter’s name has not been mentioned until now although WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips might have had him in mind when referring to ‘one or two others who have popped up in conversations’.

Young would have been Ruddock’s choice to replace Gatland at the end of the 2019 World Cup with Scarlets’ backs coach Stephen Jones as his right hand man.

“Dai has done a remarkable job with Wasps,’’ says Ruddock whose son Rhys captained Ireland against Fiji last month. “He is a shrewd guy who has proved himself throughout a tough coaching apprenticeship and he’s a passionate Welshman.

“With someone like Stephen Jones to assist him, one day they could be the dream team for Wales. But Dai’s doing such a fantastic job at Wasps that I can understand his reluctance to leave.

“Ideally, you want Wales to be the last job before you retire because it’s the biggest and you need all the experience you can get. Dai has transformed Wasps so it makes sense if he thinks 2023 would be a better time.’’

Ruddock, whose 2005 squad achieved the most stylish of Wales’ three 21st century Grand Slams, resigned halfway through their defence of the title amid claims that he had been a victim of player-power. He will not be applying for his old job.

Brainbox: Mike Ruddock instructing Martyn Williams during a Wales training session in 2006 (photo: Getty Images)

“It doesn’t appeal to me,’’ says Ruddock who coaches unbeaten All-Ireland League leaders Lansdowne in Dublin. “As a family we are all very happy in Ireland.

“The Welsh RFU want to get their ducks in a line. But a lot can happen in 18 months.

“There are so many variables that you don’t know who may come on the market after the World Cup. People like Joe Schmidt (Ireland’s head coach) could be available.’’

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