Vern Cotter to leave Montpellier with immediate effect

New Zealander released four months early, while Scots Nathan Hines and Richie Gray remain at the club for the time being in specialist coaching roles

Vern Cotter initially joined Montpellier after leaving Scotland in the summer of 2017. Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson
Vern Cotter initially joined Montpellier after leaving Scotland in the summer of 2017. Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson

MONTPELLIER have released Vern Cotter from the remaining period of his contract with the French Top 14 outfit. The New Zealander is understood to have reached agreement with club owner Mohed Altrad to leave now rather than in June when his contract expires. His replacement, Philippe Saint-André, is set to step into the post this week, according to media reports in France.

Cotter moved to Montpellier in 2017 after being replaced by Gregor Townsend in the Scotland job.He led the side to the Top 14 final in his first season. However, that defeat against Castres proved to be the high point of his spell in charge and was followed by a loss against Lyon in the play-offs last year.

Nevertheless, Cotter leaves the club with a positive record having seen 32 wins and a draw during 55 matches in charge. He was also credited with increasing the French contingent in a squad that had a heavy South African bias under his predecessor Jake White.

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Among Cotter’s signings this season was full-back Anthony Bouthier, who joined from second tier outfit Vannes and has gone on to make a mark on the international scene with two impressive Guinness Six Nations performances for France.

At the end of last season, Cotter was given a new role as director of rugby, and replaced as head coach by Xavier Garbajosa, who then started to appoint his own team. Scots Nathan Hines and Richie Gray remain at Montpellier in specialist coaching roles for now.

Cotter, who led Clermont Auvergne to a domestic title and a European Challenge Cup success before becoming Scotland coach in 2014, will take up his next position in charge of Fiji this summer. He has been handed the task of building a side capable of competing at the 2023 World Cup in France, starting with the test match against Tonga on 4 July.

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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Toony and cotters records are pretty similar both round the 52% win mark. At least cotter got wins against Ireland and Wales and at the time there was a genuine sense of moving in the right direction. The world cup experience under toony was horrible and I’ve tried to block out the losses to Fiji and the usa. Not saying cotters the answer but I was sad to see him go.

  2. Cotter with the biggest budget in the T14, had Clermont as perennial chokers and non achievers. He got an an assistant, and then they were runners up twice before winning the T14. Assistant left, Clermont reverted until Cotter left. Assistant went on to have a pretty legendary career first as coach of Leinster, then Ireland.
    With Scotland he rode on the back of Glasgow’s backs, and added lite else. We learned to skin rabbits I suppose and pull their heads off.
    What has Cotter has actually achieved is much less than the myth. Getting punted from another big budget T14 side,first as coach then as DoR should be saying something to the fan boys clamouring for his return

  3. Keyboard warriors stand by your spacebars!


    Scotland coach in waiting fired from current job (for not being very good). GET HIM BACK INTO THE EMPIRE OF MURRAYFIELD EVIL! Wait a minute….but then we would have no one to blame…. hmmm.

    What a Cotter conundrum.

    Hang on, lets get Big Vern as CEO (so long Marky Mark) and and he can hire Matt Williams back- he talks sense on telly, or at least he is on telly. Cotter says Fin for skipper, kill some rabbits and target the Grand Slam in 2021. YES THAT IS THE SOLUTION SCOTLAND FANS! Boooo to Gregor, boo to everyone. Booooooo.

    • No thanks… wins at all against England South Africa New Zealand Australia and only one apiece against France Wales n Ireland (none away). Also our worst ever defeat to England n best effort in 6n was fourth. Hadden n Robinson did better with much worse players. Bad as things are now Townsend can still point to a better record against top sides. Cotter was stood down from first team coaching at his club n subsequently released early for good reasons. Not disputing that we need change now but Cotter gets a free pass from too many people simply because he wasn’t as calamitous as Scott Johnson.

    • Remembering how poor scotland were before he took us on, no trys, no wins, rarely beat Italy. From being hopeless, it took time, but he took scotland on massively. Scoring trys, winning some games against tougher teams. Although, he was made to leave before he wanted to, and before had finished building up the team. The team had the highest the regard (as did supporters) for him, esp. evident at end of the last game under his control. He clearly was getting the most out of a team, with a limited pool of players and resources. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll be back, and will FR?…who knows?

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