The Blues have signed former Flying Fijians mentor Vern Cotter as their new Head Coach on a two-year deal until the end of the 2025 Super Rugby Pacific season.
Cotter, who starts with the Blues this week, has replaced Leon McDonald, who made a move to the All Blacks coaching panel for the Rugby World Cup this year.
Cotter joined the Flying Fijians in 2020 and departed the team in 2022.
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 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.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the entire Blues organisation for putting their trust in me,” Cotter told Blues media.
“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.
“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.”
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.