Gregor Townsend: Finn Russell must ‘adhere to standards’ if he wants Scotland return

Scottish boss leaves door open for outhalf but involvement in Six Nations looks unlikely

Gregor Townsend has released a statement in response to a newspaper interview given by Finn Russell. Photograph: EPA/STR

Gregor Townsend has released a statement in response to a newspaper interview given by Finn Russell. Photograph: EPA/STR

 

Gregor Townsend has left the door open for Finn Russell to rejoin the Scotland squad but stressed he must sign up to the new standards of behaviour that have been set.

Townsend released a lengthy statement in response to a newspaper interview in which Russell expressed his frustrations over the international set-up and outlined the breakdown of his relationship with the head coach.

The former Glasgow boss stressed his senior players had helped shape the new squad environment after the disappointment of failing to get out of their World Cup pool.

There appears next to no chance that Russell will return for the remainder of the Six Nations after missing the opening two games following a breach of team discipline, and Townsend warned changes would not be made for one player.

“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,” Townsend said in a statement released by the Scottish Rugby Union.

“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.”

Despite telling Russell he would not be involved in the opener against Ireland, Townsend felt he had ironed out some differences with his former Glasgow player.

“Finn left camp on the Sunday night because of a disagreement over alcohol with fellow players and chose to miss the following day’s training and meetings,” he said.

“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.”

Finn Russell in action for Racing 92 against Munster last year. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Finn Russell in action for Racing 92 against Munster last year. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Townsend explained why guidelines for behaviour had changed to ensure players were at their best.

“These standards are set out through feedback from players and staff and are driven by the player leadership group or the head coach at varying times during a campaign,” he commented.

“We have players who come from around a dozen different clubs and it’s really important they commit to an agreed standard of behaviour, which builds trust and is at the bedrock of a high-performance environment.

“These standards don’t change for one player, even if that’s not what they experience in their club setting.

“A really pleasing aspect of the last three weeks has been seeing the group commit to this high-performance standard, bond as a group of young men and show consistency and quality on the training field. They’ve been a pleasure to work with.

“Our team leaders made the decision there would be no drinking after our opening match of the Six Nations and they have been working closely with me on improving other aspects of our environment.”

Townsend, who claimed Russell had been “brilliant to coach” for club and country, added: “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.

“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 what has been agreed and put the best interests of the team first.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.