Gregor Townsend on Finn Russell, summer Tests and rugby’s return

Gregor Townsend
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Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has spoken to the media during the lockdown to discuss his relationship with Finn Russell, Scotland’s summer Tests, finishing the Six Nations and how good it can be to have major stars playing outside of Scotland.

Robert Rees brings you the latest from the Scottish camp.

When will Scotland play again?

“It’s unlikely that we’ll be playing the summer tour in July, so let’s hope we get to play as soon as possible and whenever we can, whether that is in October or November.”

Working with the Red Arrows….

“The most interesting one, because it was different was the Red Arrows the other week. Their leader and a member of crew talked to us about what they do in training and how they debrief and how that process has worked for them. They have to make sure their review sessions are full of detail and collaboration as it can mean life or death.

“Their performances are people following exact routines and cues, and our game can be like that at lineout, scrum or certain structure, but our game also has to have people making their own calls on things.”

Duhan van der Merwe being Scottish qualified.

“He’s very much in our thoughts. I’ve spoken to him throughout the season and in the past few weeks because he’s a player we see in the mix for the summer tour, even if that’s unlikely to go ahead. He’s an excellent player who has worked off the ball and his kick-chase and defence has been excellent, especially his ball carrying.

“He makes a lot of carries and line breaks and is a young player that’s getting better the more he plays.”

Working on players’ mental state…

“It may be in a one-on-one conversation, but it’s about connecting and recognising any signs that a player may be struggling. There are some players who’ll get into a routine and have good families around them that see this as a positive to spend more time at home and there may be others who are struggling for that motivation or start to feel down and we’ve got to make sure that all of us are aware of anyone struggling.”

Finn Russell relationship…

“I’d hope they’re back on track. As a coaching group, we’ve slid into different positions to keep in contact with those positions. The group I’m in more regular contact with are the midfielders and obviously Finn, even though he wasn’t part of the Six Nations, was part of those conversations.

“We’re all waiting to see what happens when rugby does resume, but I hope he’s keen to play international rugby.”

Taking up Lions coaching role?

“It would be a huge privilege and honour to be involved with the Lions, but I’m not sure I’ll be getting an invite after saying no last time. It was different circumstances back then as that was my first chance to get into the Scotland team.”

Townsend favours playing out Six Nations

“I think the fact it’s only one game for us, that both countries have just one left compared to Ireland who have two, then it’ll be good to finish the Six Nations, go down to Wales and play in that atmosphere in such a brilliant atmosphere. I’d hope we’d get to play it but, if this delay goes on until 2021 then the focus will be on next season’s Six Nations. We have played a delayed game in the past, I remember playing Ireland back in late 2001 due to foot and mouth disease, so it’s not unusual and let’s hope we can play our games, and in November too.”



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