GREGOR Townsend has always taken a keen interest in other sports, gleaning what wisdom he can from coaches in other disciplines and applying it to rugby. But his enthusiasm for one other sport will be particularly high over the coming weeks as Scotland compete in their first major football finals in 23 years, and today the national coach wrote to his counterpart, Steve Clarke, ahead of the European Championships.
The Euros get under way tonight, when Italy play Turkey, and Scotland play their first group match on Monday, against the Czech Republic at Hampden. The most eagerly anticipated game of all, however, will be at Wembley a week today, when Clarke’s side meet England.
Referring to his own team’s win at Twickenham earlier this year – their first victory at the London ground since 1983 – Townsend suggested in his open letter to Clarke that this could be a very good year for Scots sides on English soil.
“Dear Steve,” he wrote. “First of all, a massive congratulations from everyone at Scottish Rugby on qualifying for Euro 2020 and your excellent work with the Scotland national team. The lift it gave to the country was fantastic and there is a buzz of anticipation at what the team can achieve over the next few weeks.
“It’s been a difficult period for so many Scots, but moments like these remind us how sport has the power to move and inspire people as well as bringing communities together. No doubt there will be major challenges ahead for you and the squad, but there are also great opportunities.
“Czech Republic and Croatia are high-quality opponents, but I’m sure they will respect and fear your players in equal measure. 2021 is also a good year for a Scottish team to take on England on their home turf and I can’t wait to see how that game unfolds.
“Our sports may be different, but our goal remains the same: to deliver our best performances in the navy blue jersey and to make our nation proud.
“We’ll be watching every minute of the action and cheering you on from the first whistle to the last kick of the ball.
“Best wishes, Gregor.”