England v Scotland reaction: Townsend ranks win as one of the best ever

Scotland's Jonny Gray celebrates Duhan van der Merwe's try
Scotland's Jonny Gray celebrates Duhan van der Merwe's try. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GREGOR TOWNSEND believes that Scotland’s 11-6 victory over England at Twickenham ranks as one of the best results in the nation’s history.

It is Scotland’s first success at the venue since 1983, only their fourth win there ever, and sets the team up for a long overdue tilt at the Six Nations title, although there is still a long way to go.

Scotland have not managed to finish above third in the table during the 21 years since Italy joined the competition. This is only the fourth time during that period that they have got off to a winning start, and everything the follows tends to be a bit easier when you hit the ground running.

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“I’m very aware of the history,” said Townsend afterwards. “I’ve come down here a number of times as a player and as a coach and not come away with anything. It’s got to be up there with the best ever results in our history, certainly in my playing and coaching career.

“I still go back to three years ago when we beat England at Murrayfield, just because of the crowd, the atmosphere and the way the players played – but today we were outstanding, too, in really tricky conditions.

“It was wet the whole game with really heavy rain in the second half, so to win in these conditions against a very good side with the record they have here is a fantastic achievement.”

The last 18 months have tough for Townsend, with Scotland’s early exit from the 2019 World Cup and his very public falling out with Finn Russell during the lead-up to last year’s Six Nations leaving many doubting whether the team was heading in the right direction under his stewardship. However, he was always been confident that he is the right man for the job, and isn’t viewing this game as a specific turning point.

“No, it doesn’t feel like vindication,” he stated. “We all enjoyed last year and you learn in defeat. You grow as a team in adversity. We’ve had moments before, during and after the World Cup that have shaped us as players and as coaches.

“Today a lot of our success was down to what happened in Dublin last November. Over there, we came in at half-time, having played really well  but having picked up a yellow card just before half-time, so today we were able to reference that [when Russell got his yellow-card], having already reviewed how we could improve from that.

“It was so good to see the players play really well during that yellow-card period, and then we had the boost when we went back to 15 for the final 35 minutes. That was great for our team.

“It wasn’t just one way of playing,” he added. “There was a lot of variety in our play and that was about working out where we were having success and maybe the opposition weren’t going as well, and then being accurate.

“There were leaders right through our team today. Finn leading the attack, with Stuart Hogg as captain leading at 15 and Ali Price inside him. On the defensive side of things, Chris Harris and Jamie Ritchie were in charge.

“And I thought Scott Cummings had a fantastic game against the best line-out in the world. The calling was really good, we put a lot of pressure on their line-out, stole a couple and didn’t give them quality ball. That gives us a lot of encouragement, not just the result but the fact that players stepped up and controlled the performance.”

Townsend also praised for 21-year-old debutant Cameron Redpath, who excelled in both defence and attack against the nation he had appeared to be leaning towards playing for up until three weeks ago.

“I thought it was an incredible debut,” said Townsend. “To come into a squad that you’ve not trained with before, meet players for the first time and then integrate into our way of playing was excellent.

“We saw his skillset, his confidence and his maturity in his games with Bath, but you don’t expect someone on their debut to have such an accomplished start against England of all teams, in a place where we have not won for so long.

“He was excellent, he got the ball a lot in the first half which helped him, and he did well when he did. He had some good carries, some really good passes and secured an excellent jackal penalty for us in the second half.

“He showed his competitiveness, and it’s really exciting what he can achieve in his career and what we can achieve with him in the next few years.”

Next up for Scotland is Wales at home next Saturday.

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About David Barnes 4030 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. It is absolutely vindication for GT! This publication was clamoring for his dismissal after World Cup and issues with Finn Russell last year, but GT has shown what a classy coach and man manager he is demonstrated by this performance. An apology from the dramatists in the press would not be out of order.

    • I am delighted to see Gregor get success. But don’t forget that we had a terrible World Cup and have under achieved for some time. The press are not cheer leaders. It has taken Gregor quite a while to settle on a playing strategy, coaching team and man management approach. Great that it now seems to be coming together.

    • I think you’re confusing the publication with its below the line comments section. I don’t recall a single article calling for GT’s dismissal.

      • In fairness, there was one opinion piece by an occasional columnist which went down that route after the World Cup as part of an article on the wider issue of Scottish Rugby governance. But I wouldn’t call that a ‘clamour’.

        There are a few issues we have dug our heels in on but this isn’t one of them.

        My own view is that the World Cup was a huge disappointment and the Finn Russell situation should never have been allowed to get to the stage it did, and those factors should be considerations in any discussion over contract extensions. Which I don’t think is unreasonable.

    • Its one game. Its not vindication. Vindication will be winning the tournament or the triple crown on a consistent basis. That’s what his job is. Not getting one over on a very poor English side with no chariot behind them and a missing front row.

      Yes he’s had some good results on the road with France, Wales and now England. He has a good record in the Calcutta cup. But it needs to be more than that. It needs to be that we are feared, and that we are consistently better than the opposition for 90% of each game. That’s not the case right now.

      I want nothing more than to see Scotland succeed. But it takes more than just this match or the Wales match.

      I would also agree that this publication was NOT “clamouring” for his dismissal. I was. And rightly so. He made an absolute balls of the prep for the world cup. I’m only a club level coach but it was clear. He also made a balls of the Russell affair along with his leadership team, and we paid the price for that.

      But his stock is starting to rise again. he even admitted himself he got it wrong on quite a few occasions and learned from it. Saturday was hopefully the start of a new Scotland team.

  2. Moments to savour: Hamish Watson and that turn over at the last minute of the game and the scuffed kick out of play and victory. Van the Man trailing over the line with 3 opposition players unable to stop him, if only he had a Scots Gran. Redpath’s assurance early on and that turn over, priceless. So many moments to savour that they all role into One great 81 minutes and at the end the smile on Huw Jones face with the hope no doubt that he will get a chance to replicate his early form and start tearing defences apart again.

  3. For a long time Gregor has been conservative in his selection. Picking Redpath was bold and it paid off. Hopefully he’ll back his instincts now and we’ll see exciting rugby. So many quality attackers. What a day!

    • Totally agree that Redpath is a missing piece of the jigsaw. Alongside Harris I think that gives us a really good mix of flair and grit in the midfield, and Russell clearly enjoys playing with a ‘second five-eighth’ as the Kiwis say. I still maintain we could have done something similar with Scott, but great to have Redpath on board. Pure class.


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