SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend said after this afternoon’s win over Italy that he has started discussions with Scottish Rugby about his future beyond his contract running out at the end of this Autumn’s World Cup – but kept his cards close to his chest on which way the wind is blowing.
Asked when there might be clarity on this matter, he replied: “Soon. I don’t know. I’ve had initial conversations the last couple of the weeks, and [we’re] getting some time over the next few weeks to have a bigger chat about it in more depth.
“The focus these last two weeks has been these [Six Nations] games. After a few days off I’m sure these conversations will start up again.
“I’ve indicated I need some time to think about it, especially when the tournament was in full flow. I’ll have some reflecting and time off and discussions will start again soon.”
Asked if he would like to stay on in his current role as head coach, he said: “Yes, at this stage, but it’s not the time to be answering these questions when you’re just off a victory, the crowd are behind the team and you’re connected with the players.
“It’s a great feeling, but I don’t want to commit to anything just now. There’s conversations that have started and they’ll start up again after some time off. We’ll see how they develop.
“Honestly, I’ve tried to put this to the side. Your brain has only so much capacity on one thing and that for me is to do the best I can as the team’s coach, now.
“Whatever happens the next week or two reflecting and thinking about the future when we get those discussions started again, I’ll address it again.
“But I’m thrilled with the players that have come through [this Six Nations campaign], the younger players who have come through, older players like Richie Gray, players who have maybe not been involved [for a while] like Huw Jones.
“These players are playing at their best level and that’s exciting. I believe the team feel they’ve got the game to take on anyone in the world, but we have to keep striving to be better.
“There’s a lot of areas we can improve, today and in the wider campaign. The tests are only going to get bigger in who we face in the World Cup. Two teams in the top three in the world. We’ve played the top two teams [Ireland and France], didn’t beat them, but we’ve learned a lot in those fixtures. We’ll have to be better again in the World Cup.”
Pressed on his general assessment of this Six Nations campaign, he added: “I think we look at game to game rather than general overview. The first two games were two wins and today was a win, but the most important games to look at were France and Ireland.
“The way we played against France in adversity was so encouraging for the team, to know that we can come back against a top quality side and play great rugby. Frustrating as well because we had enough chances to score two or three more tries.
“The Ireland game is very important for us because we play them in a few months time in the last pool game of the World Cup. For a half we played probably our best 40 minutes of the Six Nations, and we need to do that for 80 minutes against the top teams. The disappointing side of the Ireland game was the second half, when the game was there to be won by either team, and eventually they grabbed it and we didn’t.
“The other three games, Twickenham was brilliant, a really good team performance without that much ball, a brilliant team try at the end, and brilliant team defence to win the game. Wales was when things clicked in attack and today was a great finish.
“We’ll be disappointed with some aspects of today but to get the win, to get four tries, is good reward, Our attack has shown we can score tries, score them out wide and we’re stressing t eams across the field. Our defence has stood up on a few occasions as well. But both areas, we’re continuing to work to improve.”