Scottish coach: Power of U.S. underestimated

NewspaperVern Cotter, the Scotland head coach, was quoted in The Times of London today as saying “I think people underestimate the power of the USA. They are a very big, strong team.”

Cotter gave that estimate of the U.S. Eagles team in explaining his decision to go for “power and aggression, rather than the game’s more creative arts” in his Rugby World Cup squad.

Scotland and the U.S. face off in Leeds on Sept. 27 (I’ll be there). Cotter told Alasdair Reid, The Times Scottish rugby correspondent, he wanted to make sure he could impose the Scots’ game on the opposition.

One of Cotter’s selections gives an insight into who can play for what team in the RWC. Cotter picked John Hardie of New Zealand even though the 27-year-old had never been to Scotland. He qualifies to play for Scotland because he has a grandmother from Fife.

It’s great being where rugby finds two full pages of coverage in the daily press (although not as much as soccer for reasons I fail to understand). Besides the story on Scotland, The Times reported on:

— Questions raised by England’s head coach Stuart Lancaster on Wales and Australia’s decisions to go with only two players in their 31-man teams who can play the position of hooker. That provides another look at the rules governing the RWC: A replacement for a front-row player must be “suitably trained and experienced.” Not just anyone can fill in for the man (hooker) in the center of the front row of every set scrum. Having inexperience there could lead to injury for others down in the engine room of the game.

Ireland is getting similar scrutiny for the decision by head coach Joe Schmidt to go with only two players who can cover for scrum half, another position that requires “creative arts.”

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