GREGOR Townsend has been named as Vern Cotter’s successor as Scotland head coach.

The Scottish Rugby Union has announced that the Glasgow head coach will take over in June 2017, when Cotter’s contract expires.

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson said: “Gregor’s abilities as a head coach are evident and he is increasingly becoming one of the most sought-after coaches in the game.”

Townsend has impressed since taking charge of Glasgow in 2012, after a three-year stint as an assistant coach with the national team.

The 43-year-old has led Warriors to the Guinness PRO12 play-offs in each of his four seasons in charge and guided them to their first title in 2015, winning the play-offs after topping the table.

The 82-times capped international said: “I am incredibly proud to take on the Scotland head coach role at the end of the season.

“It is a real honour to be given the responsibility of coaching the national team and I look forward to working with such an impressive group of players.

“I’d like to thank Scottish Rugby for this opportunity and also the supporters, players and staff at Glasgow Warriors for their support over the past four years. My focus is firmly on the season ahead with Glasgow and I will be doing all I can to help the club continue to progress this year.”

Cotter almost took Scotland into the World Cup semi-finals last year but was denied by a controversial late penalty against Australia. Scotland went on to win two games in the RBS 6 Nations earlier this year but the SRU has decided that Townsend is the man to take them forward after next year’s Six Nations.

Dodson added: “I have been charged with developing Scottish coaches and believe the time is now right to secure Gregor’s talents, as we build towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“Vern Cotter has made a considerable impact on the development of the Scotland national side during his tenure. His rugby philosophy of setting high standards with a big emphasis on skill development has had a positive effect throughout Scottish rugby.

“He has helped instil self-belief, determination and put a lot of pride into the jersey for players and fans alike and for this, both myself, and Scottish Rugby would like to thank him for this significant contribution to the game in Scotland.

“We will continue to work with Vern in the season ahead as we are both determined to have a successful autumn test series and 2017 RBS 6 Nations.

“He has worked to bring out the best in our Scottish players and secured some notable victories along the way. No-one will forget our Rugby World Cup 2015 journey as Vern led the team to the quarter-finals and so nearly a semi-final.

“However the board and I now believe the time is right to take the development of the national team forward with Gregor.

“Gregor’s playing record as a Scotland internationalist and British Lion showed he is a man of vision and great professionalism, which he has since successfully transferred into his coaching roles, firstly with Scotland and subsequently Glasgow Warriors.

“It is these factors which I feel will enable Scotland to continue its forward momentum, building on the strong foundations laid by Vern, with the current group of players and future Scotland internationals.”

Cotter took over in May 2014 and led Scotland to two Test wins over Argentina plus an encouraging World Cup display, but only two wins in 10 Six Nations matches so far.

The 54-year-old said: “Since taking up this role I believe we have moved forward as a group by working to execute the simple things well. Developing skillsets and mindsets has been important to help perform on the international stage.

“The focus has been to respect tradition but also perform in the present, be adaptive and innovative. I have been really pleased with the progress that has been made in all areas.”