Scotland 29-0 Italy: Emotional Vern Cotter hails 'fantastic' farewell

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Six Nations 2017: Emotional Murrayfield farewell for Vern Cotter

Vern Cotter paid an emotional tribute to his Scotland players and staff after ending his three-year spell in charge with a 29-0 victory over Italy.

The New Zealander, known affectionately as ‘Stern Vern’, wiped away tears as he said a brief ‘thank-you’ for a rapturous reception at Murrayfield.

His side secured three Six Nations wins for the first time since 2006.

“It was fantastic, just to be part of it all and to walk round with the players,” he told BBC Scotland later.

“The players did the job out there really well, so to be able to walk round with them was great. It was one of those memories that will last with me forever.

“I am really happy the guys can hold their heads up now. I was a supporter of Scottish rugby before and I will be a supporter again now, but with a lot more emotional attachment.

“It was an honour and privilege the whole way through. I am just happy we were able to get the win and put in some good performances.

“It was just trying to get the job done and do the best I can right from the start. I was lucky enough to have good staff around me and good players.”

Watch: Scotland v Italy highlights

Cotter has led Scotland to a highest-ever position of fifth in the world rankings, guaranteeing them a place among the top eight seeds for the 2019 World Cup when the draw is made in May.

Four tries against Italy – to Finn Russell, Matt Scott, Tim Visser and Tommy Seymour – brought Scotland’s tally for the campaign to 14, surpassing their record of 11 set last year, and also a new high of 122 points in a Six Nations campaign.

“They did what was needed, got the job done and constructed the game well,” added Cotter. “It was difficult conditions, especially in the first half, with a greasy ball. But we played patiently and got ourselves into positions to score when we needed to.

“What was so good after last week [a record 61-21 defeat by England] was the guys were able to bounce back, and they didn’t concede a try. It was a performance with character and well constructed.”

John Barclay led Scotland to a third win in a Six Nations campaign for only the second time

Fly-half Russell, who scored 11 points and was named man of the match, praised Cotter’s contribution to Scotland’s re-emergence as an international force.

“Vern has been incredible,” he told BBC Scotland. “You saw afterwards how much the fans love him and the emotion – this team means so much to him.

“He has been brilliant for us. I have only been in the squad since Vern came in but guys who were here before say he has brought so much.

“It is the first time [since 2006] we have won three games in the Six Nations and we are fifth in the world so the stats speak for themselves.

“It was great to finish off with a bonus-point victory, and keep them to nil.”

Scotland captain John Barclay admitted that, after their Twickenham nightmare, the players were desperate to atone for Cotter.

“Vern has made a fantastic contribution to Scottish rugby, and built a fantastic culture in the team,” he told BBC Sport.

“He won’t take any credit but he is a great man. We shied away from it a little bit during the week but we really wanted to give the coaching team a good send-off.

“We knew we had to set the record straight. [Last week] wasn’t what we represented. So to finish like this means it has been a reasonable Six Nations.”

Despite three wins, Scotland had to settle for fourth place on points difference

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