SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend appears set to sign a contract extension before Christmas. His current deal runs out next summer, but Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson has indicated that both parties are keen to agree terms on a new deal which is likely to run through to the 2023 World Cup in France.
“I think we’ll be in a position to talk about that soon,” said Dodson. “We’ve had so much on, so we just need to find the appropriate time to sit down and tidy these things up.
“We’re all grown-ups. We’ve all said we know where we want to be, let’s come back and nail this before Christmas. Hopefully, we’ll be in a position to give you an update on that in the next few weeks.”
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Townsend took over as Scotland head coach in June 2017. His honeymoon period brought historic victories over Australia away that summer and England at home during the 2018 Six Nations, but his stock fell dramatically when Scotland tumbled out the 2019 World Cup at the end of the pool stage. Since then, the team has become harder to beat, with a solid three wins in the 2020 Six Nations, and the big challenge now is to find a balance between this new-found pragmatism and the flair which characterised Townsend’s first 18 months in the job.
Dodson added that he hopes to start contract negotiations with players coming out of contract soon.
“We’re probably later to the market, but everyone is late to the market this year,” he said. “We, like Ireland and to some extent Wales, needed to secure our own [financial] position before we even started having those headline conversations.
“Most of the players are enthusiastic about staying, but we haven’t had any real deep, meaningful conversations yet. We have to wait and get this year out of the way.”
Meanwhile, there is no rush to see Edinburgh playing moving from the international pitch at Murrayfield to their new stadium built on the back pitches until such time as the 7,800 capacity at the venue can be fully utilised.
“You can socially distance and get more people in [to the main bowl] because of its size than you can in the new stadium,” explained Dodson. “I don’t want to move Edinburgh into a new stadium that doesn’t have the atmosphere we’ve built it for.
“We want them to go out and make it the new Scotstoun, really noisy and atmospheric. If we slide people into there too early, it kind of defeats the object.”
Dodson also confirmed that plans to increase the capacity at Scotstoun has been put on the back-burner as the Union battles to make £14m in savings this year in response to the hit in income caused by Covid.
“We’ve got to marshal our resources the best way we possibly can, so do Glasgow Life [who own the venue],” he said. “The full intention is to have a bigger crowd there and accommodate the full support that wants to be part of Glasgow Warriors, but at the moment that’s been suppressed by the economic conditions.”