Scottish Rugby: Vern Cotter extends contract until 2017

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter takes training this week
Cotter was previously with Clermont Auvergne

Vern Cotter has agreed a one-year extension to his contract as Scotland head coach.

The 53-year-old New Zealander, who took charge last summer after leaving Clermont Auvergne, has signed a new deal until 2017.

Cotter's side finished bottom of this year's Six Nations Championship.

But Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said: "When we recruited him, he was the outstanding candidate for the role and that view has not changed."

The announcement comes as Scotland prepare for Saturday's match against Ireland in Dublin, the first of their four warm-up matches before the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Scottish Rugby said Cotter had brought "a confident, attack-minded mentality to Scotland's on-field approach that has sought to connect with the traditional culture of Scottish play".

The governing body added "record crowds have turned out to support Scotland throughout his tenure".

"The work he is doing with our young, talented squad of players has taken the team forward and we can now deliver continuity for the national team well beyond the Rugby World Cup," said Dodson.

Scotland celebrate against Argentina
Scotland recorded two wins over Argentina last year under Cotter

Cotter's reign started with three Test wins out of four in an opening overseas tour of USA, Canada, Argentina and South Africa.

Returning home, a narrow defeat by world champions New Zealand was sandwiched between victories over Argentina and Tonga.

And Cotter remained optimistic despite five subsequent Six Nations defeats.

"I'm really happy to be able to continue working with the players, the organisation, the board and everyone involved," he said.

"There are some talented players with some things to develop and together we are focused on facing that challenge in what I think are exciting times for Scottish rugby all over."

Cotter said the new contract meant he could plan further into the future, but stressed next month's World Cup remained uppermost in his mind.

"The culture of rugby is strong in this country and it's important that passion is reflected in the performances of the national team," he added.

"We take great pride in the honour that represents and, while it's pleasing to be in a position to plan longer term, our focus is absolutely fixed on preparing for the Rugby World Cup."