Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend agrees contract extension

He has signed a deal which will run until at least April 2026

Gregor Townsend has agreed a contract extension as Scotland head coach. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Gregor Townsend has named his team for the Six Nations opener against Wales Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GREGOR TOWNSEND has signed a contract extension which is set to run until April 2026, extending his tenure as head coach of the national men’s team to at least nine years. His current deal was due to run out after this Autumn’s World Cup, but he will now oversee the team right through until 17 months shy of the subsequent World Cup in Australia.

“Being head coach of Scotland is a tremendous honour and I’m excited about the potential of the current squad of players and the game they can deliver against the best teams in the world,” said the 50-year-old former Scotland playmaker, who took up the national reins in the summer 0f 2017 after a successful five season stint in charge of Glasgow Warriors.

“As coaches, we have been very encouraged by the progress the team has made this season, and we believe there is much more to come from this group.


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“I also feel the connection the team has with the country is special and that our supporters are backing the team like never before. The number of people who arrive two hours early to welcome the team off the bus on a home matchday demonstrates the love shown for this group of players and their belief that the squad can achieve something special.

“Our focus right now remains on Rugby World Cup preparations, but I am delighted to have secured my future for the next few years and look forward to continuing to do all I can to drive the team forward and inspire our supporters.”

Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson said: “Gregor Townsend has been the most successful Scotland coach in the history of the professional era and we believe he is the right man to lead the national team beyond this year’s Rugby World Cup.

“What Gregor has built over the last six years of his tenure has taken Scotland to fifth in the World rankings and we are keen to keep that continuity and forward momentum.

“The squad has unparalleled depth which is the result of many years planned development.

“We believe he is best placed to take the team to the next level and continue to excite and engage the people of Scotland.”


Hawick contingent ready to front-up again for South versus Edinburgh

About David Barnes 3956 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he 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.

53 Comments

  1. Good news for all involved in rugby in Scotland with the surname Townsend. 😊 Surely a decision should have been made post-World Cup? Coaches get rewarded, or otherwise, in line with performances at the biggest tournaments.

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  2. Who might have been a better choice than Townsend? No one. The post could have been left vacant. There are technical coaches in place for defence and attack. Let the players manage the games. Townsend’s imposed plans simply did not work. Kicking the ball up the park is not innovative or exciting. Nor does it produce results, unless giving the ball to the opposition is what you intend.
    With an excellent squad of players, containing some of the best whom I have seen, we know that they will return early from the World Cup playing the Townsend way. Some of them will not even get on a pitch..

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    • Among plenty of opinions lacking perspective this is perhaps the most daft. What elite team in any sport lacks anyone with overall accountability?

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      • In tennis the players are boss. In cricket, the team captain carries the can. You seem to be suggesting that Townsend is responsible for results. It that were really so he would have been fired some time ago. After the last World Cup would have been an ideal time.
        (The Twickenham turnaround when they ditched Townsend’s”plan”at half time and drew level when it had looked like being a historic drubbing, is surely evidence that they can play better without Townsend.
        I think that I may be right in saying that 100 years ago the “team manager” had no game responsibilities but was required to book transport, hotels etc and make sure that the players turned up. Now the Manager/ senior coach seems to be the one that takes the credit for wins, and covers up for defeats, “we learned a lot from that game although the result was disappointing”. Sound familiar?
        Teams should play like there is no next game, just the one that they are playing in.

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      • In January 2021 Harlequins were mid-table playing dreary losing rugby in front of bored supporters who were almost as fed-up as the players. Then the club sacked Head Coach Paul Gustard and replaced him with …. absolutely no one.

        Instead they handed control to the existing assistant coaches who immediately called a players meeting and told them that from now on they were going back to their tradition of playing heads-up attacking rugby. The players were told they would not be criticised if they made mistakes or if things didn’t work as long as they were looking to attack and entertain.

        Just over three months later Harlequins won the Premiership Final with no head coach.

        (I’m not saying that this strategy would work with Scotland but maybe it adds some of the perspective FF himself is lacking).

  3. Great sadness that this decision regarding GT was reached. I understand timeline, however in my humble view he should go after this World Cup. I saw some mention haters I am certainly not a person of that ilk! Just a Rugby who wants the best for Scotland with arguably the best gathering of Scots players ever.I will be surprised but delighted if GT can get us out of the pool but I fear not World champions no, no 1 team in the world no, Tonga tough test but Yes , Romania unknown but Yes.With a world class coach and with this pool of players yes. GT may get their but but not this year, still have Romania in Lille to look forward the others with a wee bit trepidation. I Wonder if anyone thinks we will win next 6 nations? I think not but my prefictions were never great.

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  4. Great sadness that this decision regarding GT was reached. I understand timeline, however in my humble view he should go after this World Cup. I saw some mention haters I am certainly not a person of that ilk! Just a Rugby who wants the best for Scotland with arguably the best gathering of Scots players ever.I will be surprised but delighted if GT can get us out of the pool but I fear not World champions no, no 1 team in the world no, Tonga tough test but Yes , Romania unknown but Yes.With a world class coach and with this pool of players yes. GT may get their but but not this year, still have Romania in Lille to look forward the others with a wee bit trepidation. I Wonder if anyone thinks we will win next 6 nations? I think not but my prefictions were never great.

  5. Wonder what evidence of GTs ability to take us to next level SRU utilized to make the extension call …I must have blinked and missed it.

    GT has had too many fortunate sacking escapes in his tenure as HC. 2YR extension shows little confidence either way. Considering our significantly less resources, relative to the top nations, that’s not a sufficient timeframe for a successor to rebuild mid cycle

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    • And how do you judge someone’s ability to take us to the next level. Whether that be GT or another candidate.

  6. There is in some respects an element of ‘Marmite’ about Townsend, but what were the alternatives for the SRU, in many ways better the Devil you know perhaps, especially if there was no ‘stand-out’ replacement available or interested. For what it is worth in my opinion there wasn’t a realistic option not to retain Townsend.
    However some thoughts, starting with the last World Cup, was Townsend’s ‘let’s play the fastest Rugby the wrong tactic, especially against Japan a team that almost has to rely on that aspect to compensate for other areas, and remember Barclay throwing up on the pitch in the first match, were there other issues, preparation, fitness? Add to that the potential Banana skin that was always going to be Japan in Japan, in many respects he was lucky to remain in Post.
    I’m sure some aspects of Townsend’s tenure are commendable however was it Russell who was the instigator of the 2nd half resurgence at Twickenham? Was GT’s Dodson like my way or the highway the problem with nothing more than a convivial beer [if they had been on the lash we would have heard] that led to Townsend’s farcical comment regarding the Blair Switch project that Russell was the 4th best fly half in a Scotland Jersey in an unsuccessful attempt to justify not having Russell even in the squad.
    I think the 3 years is a compromise, my guess is Townsend wanted 4 to take him to Australia and perhaps the SRU wanted 2 in order to see how as underdogs they performed in France. If we can’t beat Ireland or SA then we need to put a commendable performance and the others to the sword, failing that the knives will be out, contract or not.

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  7. Two main reasons he’s still there, thanks to Finn and Italy failing to score at end of 6 nations 2023!

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    • Mish,

      You have nailed it. Italy should have won and ever since Finn turned the England game a few years ago by doing his own thing in the second half, he has saved GT from himself, in spite of the latter’s fit of pique by demoting Finn to 4th/5th choice last year. Dodson & co should have had the balls to face reality and appoint a new coach. Extending the contract for three years is a joke, giving any successor no chance to make an impact in the next World Cup. Remember, our seeding for this WC was determined by GT’s performances with the team. So much for the statistics quoters.

      Perhaps the good coaches out there don’t rate the Scotland job or players as much as the fans do.

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  8. Perfectly happy with GT’s new contract. The haters can spout their negativity but I suspect they’d have questioned any new appointment whoever it might have been. GT is a far better coach than at last RWC which came too early in his tenure. Wiser and better now. RWC draw is tough and idiotic given it was done 3 years ago. Not GT’s fault. We’re capable of getting out of the group. If we do I trust GT will get some credit from the naysayers, but I doubt it. Onwards and upwards.

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    • Interesting points sir, however isn’t the tough draw in RWC 2023 entirely the fault of the abject failure that was RWC 2019?

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  9. Great news, as others have said he’s taken us to 5th in the world and has a good win percentage. Its a tough ask getting out of the world Cup group but its not insurmountable and toony has proved he can give the highest ranked teams a close game.

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  10. Same old, same old. It’s just getting a bit obvious now. We’ve got the highest paid CEO, performing a very mediocre job, why not reappoint a coach who is also doing likewise? Now I’m no GT or MD fan I must confess, however at least we’re seeing consistency here. A big fat zero in the past and a big fat zero to come. The Emperor still has no clothes…..

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  11. Same old, same old. It’s just getting a bit obvious now. We’ve got the highest paid CEO, performing a very mediocre job, why not reappoint s coach who is also doing likewise? We’ve already or we are in the process of wasting the most talented pool of pros we’ve had in years. Now I’m no GT or MD fan I must confess, however at least we’re seeing consistency here. A big fat zero in the past and a big fat zero to come. The Emperor still has no clothes…..

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  12. Can’t help but feel like we are measuring success a bit too softly. Stats are lovely to look at and discuss round the board room or even motivate players, but when they amount to no trophies of any significance (Calcutta Cup aside) then it can’t possibly be on form. But then again we’ve seen form discount FR from a squad so I’m not sure what definition of form is being used.

    I think it’s easy to scale goat GT, I personally have nothing against him. Its a tough gig, but I don’t think we can shout too loudly about his achievements as a coach.

    I don’t think the SRU generally speaking is a great organisation to work for and being one of the highest profile jobs they have I don’t envy GT. I don’t think he will do us any harm, but equally he won’t deal us any real developmental progression. A safe, pointless bet when you’re looking a world cup.

    I hope the result of RWC23 will shut me up, but I think it was time for him to go post RWC19.

    But all things considered he is probably the best we could A)afford and B)attract.

    I think what has been said about Dodson probably has had an influence too. The highest earning chief in GB&Ire somehow, arguably the least successful.

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  13. So tired of this. The man who has achieved so little with so much, ‘the most successful Scotland coach in the history of the professional era’ has never finished higher than third in the Six Nations – with nearly all our campaigns tailing off miserably – and got nowhere near a Grand Slam or even a championship title. Unlike great men like Geek or Telfer, to who he does not hold a candle. Big Vern took us to the cusp of a World Cup semi-final, but for an incompetent Saffer ref who soiled his shorts and ran off down the tunnel rather than review the play to prove he was wrong. By contrast Townsend took us straight out of the World Cup in Japan and looks almost certain to repeat that achievement in France come the autumn. The SRU will hide behind the fact that Ireland and South Africa are in our group to justify themselves – and of course we must get behind our man once more, for once more he is the only game in town. The Kiwis have it right, recycling even successful coaches to keep it fresh. Franco – Smith not Dettori – would have been a great choice, for he puts steel in his men’s spines and brings out absolutely everything they have. I haven’t consistently seen that kind of grit from a talented Scottish side in a very long time. No wonder the Springboks are looking at him

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    • Just trying to remember the reaction when Franco was first appointed to Glasgow. The only real supporters of him were the South Africans who knew of his ability.

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      • Aye, it can’t have been easy managing Italy. I like the cut of the guy’s jib, sat there implacably like an emperor of all he surveys. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Saffers steal him back – sadly.

    • At the 2015 RWC we beat Japan (3 days after they beat SA), USA and Samoa. We very nearly lost to Samoa and only the much maligned Greig Laidlaw saved our bacon.

      I thought Cotter was a cracking coach, I wouldn’t have replaced him when he was replaced, but the spinning of his record into the cusp of greatness is pretty ridiculous.

      I’d also have been absolutely seething if Smith was immediately moved in the Scotland coach role just after restoring respectability to Glasgow.

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    • So much? Over Townsend’s tenure, which 6N squad had weaker squads than ours. Italy obviously, then…

      Point is our squad is the best it’s been at least since 1999, but our rivals have consistently produced more and better talent. Who are our world class players now that other teams coaches and fans would be biting your hand off to bring into their squads?

      I think Townsend has generally done a good job at helping us punch above our weight. We haven’t won the title that has become our holy grail, but we’re at least competitive.

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  14. Reality check for some. If Scotland were to win the 6 Nations outright it would be their greatest achievement in their whole history.
    WC is all about performance. To get out the pool we are in would match if not better any of our previous achievements in any of the previous WC’s
    5th in the World, our highest ever ranking, the best record of a Scotland coach in the professional era, of course he deserves an extension to his contract. However should performances slide then we have time to look at new options.

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    • Really? Two grand slams and being the reigning 5 Nations champions are just to be forgotten, are they? The demise of England and Wales hasn’t done our world ranking any harm.

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      • No I never said that but being someone who was fortunate enough to win one of these Slams in my view given it is now 6 Nations for us to win that is more difficult than winning the grand slam when I did.

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  15. I’m fairly neutral on the appointment. Without knowing who else might have been contenders it’s hard to say. Sadly if you want to assess Gregor on the performance in this RWC then sharpen the knifes now. We have unfortunately got the toughest draw possible and let’s be honest it will be a major surprise if we beat Ireland or South Africa. I hope we do but it is a long shot rather than a realistic expectation.

  16. That’s a pity. Clearly the tendency is to tie down coaches before the World Cup, so maybe the other parties Dodson was reported to have spoken to committed elsewhere, or he simply believes it’s on merit. I can only hope whoever takes over at Edinburgh can enhance the squad as Smith has with Glasgow, so the team will largely pick itself as the coming season develops, but there’s a squad to consider before that can happen. Fingers crossed the warm-up matches and campaign itself are a lot better prepared for than for the last World Cup.

    • Looked like Leon McDonald had emerged as leading contender but he is the incoming assistant coach of the ABs under Scott Robertson.

      I’d have liked Jamie Joseph to be in the running but he recently signed a contract with a Japanese club for eye-watering sums.

      Not sure who else fans would have preferred who were potential targets but it’s hard to junk a head coach when your team is performing as well as it has ever done.

      3 seasons to win a 6N and ultimately that’ll determine whether GTs legacy will be success or failure.

      • We have won championships and grand slams in the past. We haven’t done either recently. Quite how is it performing as well as it has ever done?

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  17. I’m going to be consistent – poor decision IMO.
    Where does decision “sit” if Scotland are well beaten by South Africa and Ireland – next level – and return home before the KO stages.
    I’d have had GT sacked after the last RWC (which was a debacle) now irrespective of how we do in September GT has already secured a contract extension.
    I blame that big Fijian for leathering Hastings which meant Finn R was returned to the fold.

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    • And you expect to beat Ireland and SA? if so you are deluded. I doubt any coach would be able to coach Scotland to victory over those teams, we simply do do have the playing resources.

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      • No point In trying to beat them then sir is there????
        In the 2019 RWC Townsend coached Scotland hideously, it was like he(and the team) were completely surprised by typical Irish performance and then they played Japan at their own game. If we match SA and Ireland up front (easier said than done) we have the backs to beat anyone.

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    • Stats are good for GT. That’s a fact we cannot dispute and the bare numbers which GT would cite when having discussions on his future. He is also 4 years more experienced since the 2019 WC when we seemed to be on a hiding to nothing given the circumstances at the time. Like many of us, I dream of upsetting SA in the first game – that’s our best chance ad there is little evidence still that we mix it with the big boys.

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  18. Extremely disappointing but not surprising. I would love to know if the rationale behind his extension is because they genuinely believe in him or that the alternative cupboard is bare. Dodson has stated a number of times that the criteria for choosing a coach is based upon their ability to take us to the next level.What is the next level, winning the world cup, winning the 6N, surely not as low a bar as actually getting out of the group stages. Given that Townsend has had 7 years in charge and has failed on all counts how has he managed to convince Dodson that he will suddenly catapult Scotland to those heady heights.

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    • Scotland’s most successful coach of the professional era – post-1995 – has “failed on all counts”, Tiger…?

      Shurely shome mishtake! A tad harsh methinks TT, despite occasional growing pains. Tough job, conducted under the harsh spotlight of the media, bar-room pundits and laptop-wielding experts.

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      • Read my post….. I was referring to the criteria to take us to the “next level”.Failed on the counts of winning the 6N, world cup, and even the lowly criteria of getting out of the group stage.

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    • I never understand why people like you can’t comprehend that we are a relative rugby backwater and that at the moment we are punching far above our weight (with every sinew (and eligibility rule) stretched to the limit to even assemble a competitive squad).

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      • I never understand why people like you exist. Always settling for the mediocre and never striving for better and disguising it under the banner of realism.

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      • In repsonse to TT-just gotta love those internet tough guys. Happy to meet any time to discuss my right to existence.

      • A relative rugby backwater – like Ireland was 20/30 years ago? It would be nice to see the ambition to build towards similar growth. Key to that in my mind is to put in better people, try to attract the best. Perhaps if we didn’t have one of the highest rewarded CEOs we might find the salary to attract the very best coaches to this rugby backwater.

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  19. very pleased with the extention. One point is that is is IMHO a bit too long, 2 years out from next RWC would be better. But as Dodson’s contract ends 2025 might be better not to ask a new CE to immediately find a new head coach

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    • Hopefully Mr.Dodson extends his contract beyond 2025, would be foolish to lose him.

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      • Surely this is trolling? Dodson and Toonie are at the heart of most Scottish rugby fan’s ire. Dodson’s development plan consists of ignoring young player pathway developmnent in favour of spending money overseas. I have no issue with overseas players in the modern game, everyone is doing it but I do worry about how demotivating it must be for young homegrown talent to lose out to those falling out of contention for other national sides. Our U20s form is scandalous and points to a massive problem. Toonie has the luxury of being made to look successful by having the most talented crop in a generation. I can only imagine what Big Vern might have done with them. 6N crown would certainly have been attainable. Stop talking about “learning” moments and accept that the bottleneck is the coaching!

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      • @Angrygala, to be clear I am not suggesting Dodson go. I assumed perhaps wrongly that he might want to step down given he will be 65 and been in post for 14 years.

      • He’s played an absolute blinder here with being able to keep Gregor on. Hopefully there will be good news with regard to Mr Dodsons future coming soon

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