Vern Cotter is the new Head Coach of the Blues, signed on a two-year deal placing him at the Blues helm through until the end of the 2025 DHL Super Rugby season.
Cotter, who starts with the Blues this week, will be joined by new Assistant Coach, Jason O’Halloran, also on a two-year deal, working alongside members of the existing Blues coaching team.
Cotter is an experienced Head Coach at both domestic and international level and was most recently Head Coach of Fiji from 2020-22.
He was also Head Coach of Scotland from 2014-2017 – where he joined forces with O’Halloran – the pair taking the team from tenth to fifth in the World Rugby Rankings and credited with having a strong impact on the culture and performance of the team.
Cotter said he is both honoured and enthused to be named Head Coach of the Blues.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the entire Blues organisation for putting their trust in me,” said Cotter.
“I’ve watched this club thrive in recent years and I’m excited by the challenge of taking them forward and building on what is a very strong base.”
“It’s great to have Jason joining me at the Blues. Since our time in Scotland we’ve remained firm friends and often pick up the phone to discuss current trends in the game – I know he’ll add real value to an already strong coaching team.”
Cotter has a history of success, under his guidance European club side Clermont Auvergne reached lofty heights, making three Grand Finals before winning the coveted French Top 14 title in 2010 – the first title in the club’s history. The team also won a European Challenge Cup under Cotter’s guidance in 2006.
He said his experiences overseas can help in taking the Blues forward.
“When you take a new role it’s important to acknowledge what’s been going well for a team, while constructively challenging aspects you feel could improve. I think I can add fresh thinking, informed by my broad and varied coaching experiences to date.”
“I’m looking forward to getting stuck in with the Blues and I’m energised to be back in New Zealand coaching at Super Rugby level.”
Blues Chairman Don Mackinnon said Cotter’s vast experience, partnership with O’Halloran and history of winning were key factors in bringing him to the Blues.
“We’ve been in communication with Vern for a while now and what shone through in our conversations was his desire to drive the club forward while building on the strong culture we’ve developed at the Blues over the last few years. He’s an experienced and driven coach, has a history of success and I believe is the right fit for the role.
“Vern and Jason have proven they work well together, and we believe the pair will provide some fresh thinking and energy to take the club forward.
“We’re really happy with our coaching mix for 2024 and beyond and believe Vern is the right man to set the direction for our coaching group and continue the development of some excellent younger coaches.”
Blues CEO, Andrew Hore, was equally impressed by the latest additions to the coaching group.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming both Vern and Jason to our team. We feel they will fit seamlessly into our coaching group and wider business,” said Hore.
Those thoughts were echoed by New Zealand Rugby Manager, Professional Rugby, Simon Simmers.
“Vern’s appointment is a great example of our home-grown coaching talent gaining valuable experience offshore, before returning to New Zealand to continue their contribution to the development of our people and competitions.
“Vern’s coached internationally at Rugby World Cups and knows what it takes to win titles in Europe. He will bring all those insights and knowledge back to the Blues and Super Rugby Pacific. It’s great to have Vern home.”
All Blacks not underestimating Argentina in Mendoza – Mo’unga
The All Blacks are not underestimating the challenge of facing Argentina in Mendoza and would look to do the simple things right in front of a hostile crowd said first five-eighths Richie Mo’unga, ahead of the opening Lipovitan-D Test against Argentina on Sunday morning (NZT).
Argentina’s confidence would be high: they beat the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time last year, beat England at Twickenham, and put 50 points on Australia in one of their Tests.
He said they were worthy rivals and definite contenders both for the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship and the Rugby World Cup.
“Playing Argentina in Argentina, and in Mendoza, could be considered in the same light as playing South Africa at Ellis Park. This is a rugby city, the Argentinians are pumped to be playing here and they deserve all the respect they get.”
Mo’unga said the atmosphere in Argentina was akin to that for football with plenty of passion, and that was more the case in Mendoza, a rugby city where the crowd at games could be hostile in their support of their side.
“You can get caught out if you haven’t played here before or understand what it means to them to play in a city like Mendoza against the All Blacks.”
While they loved their rugby, they also loved the All Blacks, and they received a warm welcome upon their arrival.
Argentine first five-eighths Nicolas Sanchez was rated highly by Mo’unga. He was a fine goal-kicker but underrated by many. But with improving stocks in the position, he was sure whoever was selected would thrive because of the speed and physicality in their forwards and the flair of the backs, which was always dangerous.
While Argentina had lost contact with New Zealand sides with the changes to Super Rugby and the loss of the Jaguares, Mo’unga said they were still playing top rugby in sides in Europe and were bringing that back to their Test preparations, which would help them.
“Whenever you play the Argentinians you expect the best Argentinian side and that’s what you should do. You give them more respect. And they’ll be fizzed for it because they will be playing in Argentina against the All Blacks.
While the All Blacks could see how players performed individually through video analysis, they could also reflect on how they did things in the past, which was relevant because the same coaching personnel were still involved.
“You assume things, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to get, it so you have a plan. But sometimes you’ve got to play heads up footy too, and I’m sure we’ll get both cases this week – getting what we assume but them showing some things that are a little different, and we’ve got to be prepared for that as well.”
MATCH DETAILS: All Blacks v Argentina, Sunday July 9, 7.10am NZT, Estadio Malvinas, Mendoza, Argentina. Live on Sky Sport NZ.
Sharks sign respected Full-back on 1 year deal
Former Gloucester full-back Jason Woodward joins Sale Sharks ahead of 2022/23 Premiership season
Sale Sharks have signed versatile full-back Jason Woodward on a one-year deal ahead of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season.
The former Bristol Bears and Gloucester man, who can also play on the wing and in the centre, put pen to paper today and will join Alex Sanderson’s squad ahead of their opening pre-season clash against Caldy RFC on August 19.
Jason signed for Bristol from Super Rugby side the Hurricanes in 2016, before joining Gloucester the following year after Bristol’s relegation from the Premiership. He went on to make made 67 appearances and score 90 points for the Cherry and Whites.
The 32-year-old represented New Zealand at U20 level but qualifies for England through his grandmother and was called into a training camp by Eddie Jones in 2017.
Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson said: “After speaking with Jason it was clear he was still motivated to perform at the highest level, and he was keen for a move North to join the Sharks.
“Jason is a proven Premiership performer who will add a great deal of quality and experience to what is a young squad here.
“He has the ability to play in a number of positions and that’s a massive bonus for us with such a busy schedule ahead.
Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby
RFU Council votes in favour of change to gender participation policy
|Press release issued by Rugby Football Union|
- The RFU Council has approved a new gender participation policy following extensive stakeholder consultation and thorough review of all available scientific evidence
- New policy takes a precautionary approach by prioritising safety of players
- RFU promoting opportunities for everyone to participate in rugby offering a range of formats and ways to get involved along with a confidential helpline
- RFU committed to working with World Rugby and UK Sports Councils to ensure further research is conducted and to reviewing the policy on a regular basis
Following an extensive RFU consultation, the RFU Council has voted in favour of updating its gender participation policy for rugby in England from the start of the 2022/23 season with 33 in favour, 26 against and 2 abstaining.
The RFU began a detailed review of its policy in Autumn 2020, this included a game wide survey receiving over 11,000 responses, extensive consultation with and listening to a wide range of independent experts as well as considering all available scientific evidence along with liaising with other sporting bodies.
The review and consultation concluded that detailed peer reviewed research provides evidence that there are physical differences between those people whose sex originally recorded as male and those as female at birth, and advantages in strength, stamina and physique brought about by testosterone and male puberty are significant and retained even after testosterone suppression.
This science provides the basis of the new gender participation policy that concludes the inclusion of trans people originally recorded male at birth in female contact rugby cannot be balanced against considerations of safety and fairness.
The RFU Council has determined that until such time as new further peer-reviewed science is available, a precautionary approach is appropriate to ensure fair competition and safety of all competitors. Therefore, the RFU Council approved a policy change to only permit players in the female category if the sex originally recorded at birth is female.
The RFU recognises this was a complex and difficult decision and the policy change was not taken lightly or without thorough and full research and consultation. Speaking about the decision, RFU President, His Honour Jeff Blackett said: “I would like to thank everyone for the passion, time and effort that has been put in to consulting with us and informing this policy review. Inclusion is at the heart of rugby values and we will continue to work with everyone to keep listening, learning and finding ways to demonstrate there is a place for everyone in our game. We know that many will be disappointed by this decision however, it has been based on all the scientific evidence available. Our game can be strengthened by everyone who is involved; be it in coaching, refereeing, administration or supporting and playing non-contact forms of the game.”
The RFU also considered the merits of a case-by-case assessment process, but in light of the research findings and work of World Rugby and the UK Sports Councils, and given the difficulties in identifying a credible test to assess physiological variables, this is no longer a viable option at this time and does not necessarily ensure inclusion. World Rugby has a dedicated funding stream for research in this area and the RFU will continue to work with World Rugby and other stakeholders in promoting research to continue.
In the male category, players whose sex recorded at birth is female may play if they provide their written consent and a risk assessment is carried out.
The RFU is committed to supporting and encouraging opportunities for everyone to participate in rugby including non-contact formats of the game and through coaching, refereeing or volunteering roles. If anyone would like to find out more about how rugby can be inclusive to them and would like to get involved they can contact the RFU via [email protected] . For anyone who wants advice on mental-wellbeing please see this link.
The RFU has contacted the registered trans women players, who the revised policy has a direct impact on, to offer its support in continuing to encourage them to participate in the sport. The RFU will continue to listen and review its policy on a regular basis and welcomes all new research on this subject to inform these reviews.
For further information on the review please click here:
RFU Gender Participation Policy – frequently asked questions
RFU Gender Participation video