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Vern Cotter denies he’s on verge of quitting Clermont to take up Scotland job early


ASM Clermont Auvergne head coach Vern Cotter

ASM Clermont Auvergne head coach Vern Cotter


ASM Clermont Auvergne head coach Vern Cotter

INCOMING Scotland coach Vern Cotter has denied offering to resign his post at Clermont Auvergne and move to his new Murrayfield post 12 months ahead of schedule.

The New Zealander was confirmed as the permanent replacement for former Dark Blues boss Andy Robinson on Monday but the Scottish Rugby Union announced Cotter would not take up his new position until June next year when his contract at the Parc des Marcel Michelin expires.

However, after the coach gave a newspaper interview in France criticising members of his squad following their Heineken Cup final defeat to Toulon, Clermont president Rene Fontes released a statement suggesting Cotter, 51, had then tendered his resignation.

Fontes claimed the Top 14 side's board would hold a board meeting on Monday to rule on his offer.

He told the club's official website: "I learned today of the interview given by Vern Cotter to the press. The words of our coach had me stunned and deeply disappointed as they were the opposite of his usual behaviour towards our players and our club.

"That same day, Vern told me that after his statement, he was offering his resignation. I have taken note of the proposal and agreed to convene the board of directors of the club on Monday to decide on this. "

However, Cotter denied he was stepping down and insists his plan is to see out the remainder of his deal with Clermont.

In his interview with French paper La Montagne he said he regretted "trusting two or three players".

However, he told Press Association Sport: "No, I haven't resigned. This is unclear. I would like a little bit of clarity and I will be ringing my president to see what the situation is.

"Apparently there has been a reaction to an article I gave stating my honest appraisal of how the club should move forward.

"I'm surprised because we had agreed to move forward to 2014, so I will obviously be asking a few questions.

"We have had discussions with Mark Dodson and the Scotland management team early on and the club asked me to stay for another year.

"I don't know if that position has changed but that will be part of the phone call that I make.

"The most important thing is to make sure whatever decision is made is done properly."

Cotter took over at Clermont in 2006 and led the club to their first Top 14 crown four years later. This season he also shepherded the team to the final of the Heineken Cup only to see them lose narrowly to French big-spenders Toulon 16-15.

But he admits he is already looking forward to taking over the reigns of Scotland.

"I am looking forward to this new challenge," he said. "I'll be coaching at the highest level, coaching a team that has got great talent, that has done really well in this year's Six Nations.

"We'll be working towards the World Cup in 2015 with a great management team. It's very exciting."

Should Cotter remain in post in France, Scott Johnson - the Australian who acted as interim head coach in the wake of Robinson's departure - will carry on leading the team until Cotter's return.

But the new man insists he will be fully briefed by Johnson - the SRU's new director of rugby - on events such as when the team jet out to a four-team tournament in South Africa on Friday and beyond.

He said: "I will have regular contact with Johnno on how the team is progressing. We have already spoken about how they are working and what his set of aims are.

"He will be able to come and see me in France often and plan things.

"I would like to understand how they have been working so it will be a good time to get ready for the time when I am here permanently."

PA Media