Dodson promises news on Townsend contract extension soon

Edinburgh unlikely to play in mini-Murrayfield this season

Gregor Townsend appears set to agree a new deal which will keep him as Scotland coach through to the 2023 World Cup in France. Image: © Craig Watson -
Gregor Townsend appears set to agree a new deal which will keep him as Scotland coach through to the 2023 World Cup in France. Image: © Craig Watson -

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.”

Scottish Rugby targets 25,000 at Murrayfield for Six Nations

About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Not much evidence of progress in the Autumn Series:
    Perhaps a new contract for Townsend is a bit premature:
    Maybe Dodson should think about financial security for the SRU rather than headlining a new contract for Townsend.
    The real job is to rebuild the SRU finances.

  2. There is, and forgive me for saying so, an element of Snake Oil Salesman in so much of the verbiage that emanates from certain quarters and as much as anything else I find it irritating, but there again when you are in the proverbial the only option is, fight fire with fire, in other words the use of Bovine-waste in ever increasing quantities.
    Perhaps an example is – Dodson “We’ve had so much on”.
    With respect there is only one problem: OK one problem with sub headings, where is the money, where are the audited accounts, where is the credibility?
    “We’re all grown-ups” “We’ve all said”: and on and on, the excuses and vacuous ‘business speak’ goes on and on.
    One of the more worrying quotes – “Most of the players are enthusiastic about staying” really!
    Who and what constitutes ‘most’ as a definition of numbers?
    “We have to wait and get this year out of the way.”
    At every cut and turn obfuscation.
    Week after week the Offsideline report on the PR that drifts out of, one presumes, the Murrayfield Press office at the behest of Dodson and no matter how strident the voices from most quarters nothing seems to change, its always Jam tomorrow, with suggestions that had it not been for the Lurgy it would have been Jam today: and yet what of the History of the Dodson regime, well if I have to relate the past flaws you haven’t been following the Saga, suffice to suggest the extent of the regime conjures up the image of Skeletons and Cupboards.

  3. The change in how Scotland have been playing recently may owe something to the absence of Russell and the introduction of a different defence coach. What hasn’t changed is Townsend’s sometimes baffling selection policy, such as the starting front row against France. The terrible warm-up performances and loss to Ireland and Japan in the World Cup should not be forgotten either. Now would be a good time to start building for the next World Cup with a more professional head coach.

  4. There will come a point when the whole cosy little SRU club at Murrayfield Palace comes unstuck and Scottish Rugby finally moves into the professional era properly and can build out properly from grass routes all the way to the international teams. Till then its always going to be one step forward, two and a half backwards.

  5. what about bringing in new blood with good playing and coaching track record in the form of ScottRobertson of Canterbury Crusaders who many in NZ think should be the current NZ coach ?

  6. In reality, whatever bluster Scottish Rugby’s arch-blustering CEO puts on it (in those few quiet moments when not totting up his most recent pay-packet), the Union’s financial problems are deep-rooted and indeed potentially very serious in terms of its capacity to continue trading on its present business model amidst the ongoing pandemic-related uncertainty.

    Compared with the RFU, WRU and IRFU, the SRU has been floundering, way behind the curve in most respects. Reading between the lines of what has been seeping out of Murrayfield around this year’s conveniently (for some!) fragmented AGM, an air of subdued desperation permeates much of Scottish rugby right now.

    Delayed submission of audited, signed-off “going concern” YE2020 accounts, still not presented to members, clear and obvious difficulties in obtaining adequate bank borrowing facilities going forward – no wonder the blighters have been “late to the market” (classic Dodson speak!), not yet able to engage meaningfully in contract negotiations with the national head coach and the numerous players already and about-to-become out of contract! Well – would you buy a used car from any of these desperados?

  7. he’s not going anywhere else let’s be honest.

    Don’t see a queue forming.

    He has suckered Dodson at least once already.


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