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Gregor Townsend bites back after Finn Russell criticism


Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has said he has no intention of changing his style of coaching to suit one player, after coming under criticism from the exiled Finn Russell.

Russell revealed the extent of his dispute with the Scottish head coach yesterday, telling the Sunday Times, saying he has "no relationship" with Townsend anymore.

The outhalf critcised Townsend's style of management, and Scotland's controlled style of play, as well as giving his version of the events which saw him dropped for the opening game of the Six Nations against Ireland.

"This whole situation with Scotland has been made out to be about me wanting to have a drink, when in actual fact, it's about control, respect and trust, on and off the pitch," Russell said.

However, this afternoon, Gregor Townsend has issued a lengthy statement through the Scottish Rugby website, stating his wish to address Russell's version of events.

"Finn left camp on the Sunday night because of a disagreement over alcohol with fellow players and chose to miss the following day’s (Monday) training and meetings. I arranged to meet with him that evening. It was a really positive meeting where we talked openly about life, rugby and what it means to play for Scotland.

"I left that meeting, after almost three hours, really optimistic that Finn would play a major part in our environment and be a committed team member. Unfortunately, things have not unfolded as well as we would have hoped.

"To play for Scotland takes total commitment. A lot of people make great sacrifices for the opportunity to represent 150 years of history and be among a special group of people who have had the honour of representing their nation," Townsend says.

The former Pro 12 winning coach says the door remains open for Russell to return, but he must do so on the same terms as any other player.

"A lot of times, everything is not always how you’d like it to be. You might not agree with everything that is there, maybe because it’s a different coach than the one you have at club level or a different way of preparing or playing. What is important is that you commit to the what has been agreed and put the best interests of the team first.

"In the Six Nations and this season we are playing teams in the top five or six in the world and the effort, planning and standards that go into preparing people physically and mentally are really important, as are the bonds that bring people together and the trust that must be created within the group.

"The door will be open to any player with the required level of ability – if they commit to being a trusted member of the team. It’s been made clear that Finn could be a part of that future. However, he stated at the weekend that everything else has to change for him to come back, rather than accept and adhere to the standards currently being lived by the group.

"I hope this situation can be resolved but our focus is on working with the squad and building on the positive work that’s gone in from the players for our first two games."

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2020 Six Nations Finn Russell Gregor Townsend Scottish Rugby Six Nations

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