All Blacks might have Cotter to thank for French rucking

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James Mortimer     11 Jun 2013     Getty Images

This is something few had predicted post match, but if the maxim that all national teams pick up at least one trait from their domestic powerhouses, then the precision of the ruck will be something that Kiwi coach and Clermont and soon to be Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter might have to take credit for.

He has instilled into Clermont that control of the ruck be the leading feature of their game, playing the breakdown better than anyone else on French soil.

Toulon’s (the Heineken Cup winners) pragmatism and Castres (the Top 14 winners) frontal power is typical to the French game and was on display in the First Test, but Clermont would be the best reason for France's increased prowess at the coalface.

Some have lamented how the large number of foreign players is hurting French player development, but skills and trends still transcend from clubs to international sides, a by-product of players bringing in their own ideas and principles as well.

Clermont under Cotter have set a standard that many French sides strived to reach during the recently completed European and French season, another trend where the best sides force others to imitate them.

The former Bay of Plenty mentor guided his side to the Heineken Cup Final and top of the regular season table finish through a style with many New Zealand Rugby undertones, and his transformation of the Auvergne based side has led to his first head coach opportunity with the Scots.

Further to this is a view by many that Clermont are the fittest side in the French competition, another trait backed up by Cotter’s intense work ethic towards having the fitness to outlast other players, a recognised trait amongst Kiwi coach's regimes.

Certainly it was not a fatigued Les Bleus on display at Eden Park, and while Philippe Saint-Andre and his coaching team are clearly implementing their own styles, one couldn’t miss the irony in watching a French side go about their business at times with more than one or two hints of a Kiwi Rugby style.