Scottish Rugby have confirmed Glasgow Warriors boss Gregor Townsend will replace Vern Cotter as Scotland head coach at the end of the 2016/17 season.
Cotter’s contract ends in June 2017 and Scottish Rugby have announced its intention to install former Scotland fly-half Townsend into the role when his current contract with Glasgow Warriors also ends at the same time.
Townsend has been head coach at the Warriors since 2012, leading them to the play-offs in every season, culminating with his team becoming the first Scottish professional side to win the league title in 2015.
Acknowledged as one of the most respected coaches in the northern hemisphere Townsend has regularly attracted interest from teams across Europe and the southern hemisphere in recent seasons leading Scottish Rugby to move to secure his services through to 2020 as Scotland head coach.
Vern Cotter started as Scotland Head Coach in the summer of 2014, starting with a summer tour which saw wins over USA, Canada and Argentina. His appointment came after eight years leading Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14.
Under his leadership the team won the Top 14 Championship in 2010 and held a 77 game unbeaten home record between 2009-2013. Having ended his playing career in France in 1999 Cotter returned to his native New Zealand to coach Bay of Plenty in the NPC.
He then joined Super Rugby side the Crusaders as forwards coach between 2004-2006 where they won back to back Super Rugby titles before returning to France with Clermont.
Scottish Rugby Chief Executive, Mark Dodson said: “Gregor’s abilities as a head coach are evident and he is increasingly becoming one of the most sought after coaches in the game.
“I have been charged with developing Scottish coaches and believe the time is now right to secure Gregor’s talents, as we build towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.”
“Vern Cotter has made a considerable impact on the development of the Scotland national side during his tenure. His rugby philosophy of setting high standards with a big emphasis on skill development has had a positive effect throughout Scottish rugby.
“He has helped instil self-belief, determination and put a lot of pride into the jersey for players and fans alike and for this, both myself, and Scottish Rugby would like to thank him for this significant contribution to the game in Scotland.
“We will continue to work with Vern in the season ahead as we are both determined to have a successful November test series and 2017 Six Nations.
“He has worked to bring out the best in our Scottish players and secured some notable victories along the way. No-one will forget our Rugby World Cup 2015 journey as Vern led the team to the quarter-finals and so nearly a semi-final.
“However the Board and I now believe the time is right to take the development of the national team forward with Gregor.
“Gregor’s playing record as a Scotland internationalist and British Lion showed he is a man of vision and great professionalism, which he has since successfully transferred into his coaching roles, firstly with Scotland and subsequently Glasgow Warriors.
“It is these factors which I feel will enable Scotland to continue its forward momentum, building on the strong foundations laid by Vern, with the current group of players and future Scotland internationals.”
Scottish Rugby is now undergoing a recruitment process to find a replacement for Townsend at Glasgow Warriors for the 2017/18 season.
Speaking on his appointment Townsend said: “I am incredibly proud to take on the Scotland Head Coach role at the end of the season. It is a real honour to be given the responsibility of coaching the national team and I look forward to working with such an impressive group of players.
“I’d like to thank Scottish Rugby for this opportunity and also the supporters, players and staff at Glasgow Warriors for their support over the past four years. My focus is firmly on the season ahead with Glasgow and I will be doing all I can to help the club continue to progress this year.”
Cotter said: “Since taking up this role I believe we have moved forward as a group by working to execute the simple things well. Developing skillsets and mindsets has been important to help perform on the international stage.
“The focus has been to respect tradition but also perform in the present, be adaptive and innovative. I have been really pleased with the progress that has been made in all areas.
“The players, and my management group, have enjoyed working hard to give the fans and Scottish Rugby results and performances to be proud of.
“I intend to remain focused on the upcoming Autumn Internationals and remaining Scotland matches in 2017.”
Director of Rugby, Scott Johnson said: “Vern has worked hard to both enhance the skills of our existing Scotland internationals and bring a number of young players into the national team set up along the way.
“His attention to detail and focus on playing to Scotland’s strength has ensured we are a tough team to play against with a sharper attack and better defence.
“We now have an opportunity for this group of players to keep developing with Gregor with the added benefit that many of them will know his approach and have worked with him on a daily basis with Glasgow Warriors.
“That continuity, and the chance for a Scottish coach to also develop will, I believe, continue to improve Scotland’s rugby across the board.”