Russell and Townsend, “Strange bedfellows?”

Russell and Townsend

Russell and Townsend, “Strange bedfellows?”

At the time of writing this, Finn Russell is tearing it up at Murrayfield against Argentina. Admittedly, Los Pumas are depleted in numbers due to ill-discipline. Having said that, the players (Russell included) can only play against what they are presented with on the day.

We got the full-array of Russell-isms: flat-passes, dummies, offloads out of the tackle and some nerveless, slightly out-of-character precision goal-kicking. We also had the other side of Russell which will have turned Gregor Townsend’s face white as a sheet. The out-half attempting to clear his lines deep in Scottish territory early in the first half, and gifting Los Pumas with possession which they scored a try from. There is a clash of personalities between Russell and Townsend. What makes them strange bedfellows?

This town ain’t big enough for the both of us

Both have been exceptional players. Can ego/machismo be put aside for the good of the Scottish team? Townsend, to the outsider looking in, is the pragmatist of the two, while Russell is the erratic genius. Townsend was once one of the alphas in the Scottish backline, a talent himself around the turn of the century. There have been well-documented fallings out between the pair. Russell against New Zealand and in today’s game appears to have tightened and smartened up his act whilst staying out of the limelight off the pitch.

Given he is now at his peak, surely a happy and performing Russell is just as vital to the Scottish cause as his coach, Townsend? Ideally, both would be present in France next year and there would be an improvement in their personal and professional relationship. Obviously, rugby is a team game and Scotland isn’t a one-man band. Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe for example are others who are shining amongst the Scottish backs.

The way the Scottish players seem to be congratulating Russell for his assists today suggests he is not immune to being a team player too. Should he cough up possession in a tight game in a dangerous area, then he may face the ire of his coaches and teammates. For now, things are looking fairly rosy in the Scottish camp. Perhaps a little bit of both of their personalities can rub off on each other by osmosis? Townsend to loosen up a little and Russell to cut out any flakiness in his performances?

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