Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend to be offered two-year contract extension

Warren Gatland was sounded out about taking on the job

Gregor Townsend. ©Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Gregor Townsend. ©Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend is to be offered a two-year contract extension, which will keep him in charge of the national team until 2025, it has been reported by The Times newspaper.

His current deal runs out after this Autumn’s World Cup, and Townsend has indicated that he is keen to remain in the role. When asked in the immediate aftermath of Scotland’s recent Six Nations campaign about whether he would like to stay on, he replied: “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.”


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The length of Townsend’s new deal closely coincides with that of Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson, with whom he has been closely aligned since the Englishman joined the organisation back in 2011.

Dodson spoke earlier this week about having had conversations across the globe with potential candidates during the process of deciding whether to stick or twist with the national team head coach role, and The Times has now reported that Warren Gatland was one of the figures canvassed about the possibility of taking on the job.

The conversation between Gatland and Dodson is understood to have taken place at the start of 2023, before the New Zealander agreed to return to his role as head coach of Wales following the sacking of Wayne Pivac. There was persistent speculation at that time that Gatland would take over from Eddie Jones as the England head coach.

Fellow New Zealander Leon MacDonald, currently of Auckland Blues, was also sounded out about the Scotland role, however a generally positive Six Nations appears to have weighted the scales in Townsend’s favour.

The SRU declined to comment.


Mark Dodson says he needs to be convinced that Gregor Townsend is ‘the right voice’ to take Scotland forward

About David Barnes 3816 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.

42 Comments

  1. I have only a couple of comments to make please go and NO progress been made with arguably a fine pool of players. Enough.

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  2. Good news for the two up and coming young players in the Academy set-up with the surname Townsend!

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  3. Excellent news of he does indeed accept :D, though I am thinking it should be 4yrs rather than 2 as Franco Smith would be more than ready by 2027 :P. Hopefully GT accepts this offer though it remains to be seen as I’m not sure he’ll be happy with 2yrs but I’ve been wrong before so likely to he again hahaha.

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  4. If this is true, We can only assume based on Dodsons comments that he believes that Townsend can now take us to the next level. Given that he has failed to achieve this in his 7 year tenure what has convinced Dodson that he can now rise to this challenge. Appears illogical and utterly bizarre to me.

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  5. The thing that people forget is the disaster that was the last World Cup the drop in ranking that means it will be a miracle if we get out of the Group at this World Cup they are under GTs watch. He has also proved to be a dreadful man manager. Has he learned (we all do)? Has he changed? Is the reconciliation with Finn real? Or is it happenstance? Are the players happy because it is cosy or because they think he can get the most out of them? I’m not sure. He’s definitely a much better coach than he was 4 years ago. He’s learned at Scotland’s expense. The biggest mistake was not letting him go to France, we should have kept Vern then brought him in with 3-4 years experience elsewhere. He has no coaching experience outside the Scotland set up, yes I know he’s played elsewhere but it’s not the same. Scotland need a really good coach and you can only appoint what is available.

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  6. I think Townsend has developed into a world class coach.
    The thing I admire about him most is his ability to spot a player, especially a back.

    Players like Chris Harris and Sione Tuipulotu were languishing where they were, yet they’ve been revelations in the Scotland set up.

    He did similar things when he was Glasgow coach. Players like Leone Nakawara, Nikola Matawalu and Tommy Seymour all came into the Glasgow set up and made their names under him having been neglected by other clubs.

    Being able to make those kind of calls is a big skill.

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  7. I’m on record that I’d have sacked GT after the last debacle of a world cup campaign.
    Things have improved but is this inspite of GTs management (if it wasn’t for that big Fijian boy leathering Hastings Russell wouldn’t have been involved in the AI or perhaps not the 6N either), GTs insistence on playing Harris and Kinghorn at 10 held the team back.
    The cringeworthy after match interviews (Hogg culpable too). The ongoing issues with by far the best 10 available.
    I reckon it’s time for a new coach.

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    • He’s taken us to 5th in the world, which is realistically our ceiling at the moment. The 6 nations is tough with the number 1 and 2 team in the world coming 1st and 2nd. Perhaps this is as good as it gets right now and we have to recognize that and give Townsend and Dodson the credit that they are due.
      The next step is key, the development of a new generation, a combination of local development and exploiting our natural diaspora without the tired old xenophobic drivel. At some point those who are so critical of imported players have to recognize that without them we can’t hope to remain a 1st tier nation; we love in a country where rugby is an afterthought, the fact that we are 5th in the world might well be a credit to the SRU – Dodsen, Townsend et all.

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  8. so if we want to retain Townsend (and I know some don’t) what length of contract should be offered?
    One year? I doubt that would be acceptable to the man.
    4 years? Just before a RWC – if we fail badly do we want to keep him for another 3, leaving the new coach limited time for the next RWC – or having to pay Townsend off?

    So 2 or 3 years it is. 2 leaves enough time for the next coach if we change coaches, 3 again limited time
    2 year extension makes perfect sense

    We’ll see of Townsend accepts it. I think he still has a bit of wanderlust to offset against wanting to see how far he can take Scotland

    BTW whoever leaked this is playing mind games and I think hoping to pressure Townsend. Not the best idea

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    • Totally agre the reasoning behind a 2 year extension, should GT agree to it.
      To me, he needs to be judged on how the team is performing now, not what happened 3 or 4 seasons ago. He was very raw when appointed, probably too early in his coaching career and needed to learn. He’s made mistakes but another 2 years after RWC will show if he’s put that learning into practice. To get to 5th in the world – and I know we’ve been at that ranking before – is nothing short of miraculous given our meager player numbers. We’re above England, Wales and Australia and an incredibly hard job to climb above those higher in ranking, a monumental task for any coach.
      I don’t think he should be judged on whether we get out of our RWC group either – if we, Ireland and SA all play to our abilities, realistically we’re back home after group stage. It’ll be the performance that will be the issue; if we get close and play well, to me GT will have shown he deserves some more time.

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  9. Being offered an extension and accepting one aren’t the same. I’m not 100% convinced Townsend will stay especially if he’s offered loads of money to go and coach in France.

  10. After the disappointing 2019 RWC, Townsend cannot afford another bad RWC or its over.
    Its’s make or break time in France.
    Also – There’s a reason Gatland wasn’t wanted by the Waikato Chiefs.
    Rennie should surely have been considered for the Scotland job as he knows the culture and has added to his experience with the Australians. The trick is finding a coach who can take us up a level and win those tight games.

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    • Why? Clubs going bankrupt in England, the WRU imploding, is the SRU really in such a bad place with Dodson at the helm?

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      • He’s not doing as well as the Irish or French unions though is he Ed?

        Your comparisons are pointless unless mediocrity is your aim.

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      • Well Joe Smith, you make a valid point. I guess we are mediocre compared to the 4 teams above us in the world rankings. Our mediocrity is abysmal relative to the investments, playing numbers, government support etc of the French and Irish.
        But we are a minority sport in a football mad country. Even the OFL can’t blame that on Dodson. Our national team plays to a full house nearly every match, thus pouring coffers into the game – 20 years ago you could have replaced the stadium with a three piece suite and still have spare seats.
        Nobody is saying that everything is rosy – U20 and women results speak volumes on where investments are desperately needed as does the community game.
        So yes there are areas where we’ve turned mediocrity into an art form but to lay every ill at the feet of Dodson is just an easy out. We are not as bad as we think we are.
        And as for his salary, speak to the renumeration committee about that – not many refuse a salary because it is too much

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      • Ed why introduce a strawman argument about Dodson’s salary?

        My point about the Irish and French unions is to show how choosing two appallingly run unions (RFU & WRU) to compare the SRU to is meaningless.

        People only need to look at the state of club rugby (run and organised by the SRU) in Scotland to see what a poor job Dodson is doing. You don’t need to go anywhere else.

      • And now we have a sexism scandal. Things are really going well under Dodson aren’t they?

  11. For those who criticise the extension, who are you proposing as the dream coach that would make such a difference. Its easy to criticise but you need to have an alternative proposal – and not Gatland.

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  12. Obviously the much-talked-about offers from elsewhere did not materialise. What a surprise, for his achievements have been distinctly modest given the rich seam of talent available to him. For me a third place in the Six Nations proves nothing either way and it was particularly worrying how – yet again – we nosedived towards the tail-end of the competition. This offer should have been made after the World Cup to focus Toony’s mind and the timing makes no sense. It was the same mistake that was made just before Japan four years ago and it would seem the lesson has not been learned. Would the extension still have been granted had we lost to Italy in that final match, as frankly we should have despite being 19-6 up at home? Probably, for the Townsend tail is still wagging the SRU dog. T

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  13. If this is true and Townsend accepts, it is hugely disappointing.The team will simply be marking time and it will disadvantage his successor building towards the next World Cup. Townsend has had 8 years and there is no sign that a Triple Crown or Grand Slam is within nearer reach. His notable achievement was in getting more Scots selected for the Lions squad but Gatland then did his best to avoid many selections. Heaven help us if Gatland did replace Townsend there would scarcely be any Scots selected in the national team !. The many cynics out there would probably say “no change there then”.

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    • I think we’re 5th best on the world, highest ever ranking. I think 2 years is a perfect solution. We all realistically know that the WC is going to be tough for us given our group so 2 years on we will have an idea how we are progressing and if it’s not good then a new coach can be found in plenty of time for the next WC. Better planning than England, Wales and Australia. I even question NZ decision to name a coach before this WC has even started.

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      • Excellent sensible post. We are at the top end of where we should be given the talent available. Realistically we will
        Probably struggle to get out of our group at the World Cup, but I think that running both SA and Ire close is a realistic aim result given our ranking. Had we been in one of the other 2 groups then qualifying for the quarter’s would have been a realistic goal. If we do go through then it would have to
        be recognized as exceeding expectations.

      • Bear, No surprise we disagree. The coach has had 2 full RWC cycles and as you say circumstances have conspired for us to be in the wrong pool and the wrong side of the dersw for the RWC in France never the less results matter. The SRU should offer no contract extension to the current coach or the replacement until after the RWC and then decide on the next full 4 year cycle.

  14. Well I don’t see the sense in it but even considering Gatland let alone actually asking him illustrates how utterly clueless and put of touch Dodson is. Two more years of stagnation until we can hopefully reset Scottish rugby.

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    • How can you call 5th in the world stagnation. Do you have a clue how bad Scotland have been at rugby over a 150 years! For us to be in that position is amazing.

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  15. Scotland need a southern hemisphere coach in to bring the game in Scotland up a level, yes we played well against England we should be as good as Ireland with the players we have,

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    • Yes but lets not make the same mistake we made with Townsend one good season then… If Franco can build on this seasons momentum over the next 2 years he does deserve a crack at the role but now would have been far too soon.

  16. A two year contract doesn’t make sense, and highlights the idiocy of extending Dodson’s contract. Team changes and rebuilds are now based around the RWC cycle. Townsend will initiate the rebuild. The SRU will then be faced with being forced to offer him a further contract through to RWC 2027 or else appointing a new coach who will have less than 2 years to prepare someone else’s team .

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  17. Great news, with Toony at the helm on the park and Mr Dodson delivering off the pitch, Scottish rugby is in a great place.

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  18. Not great news, as he has failed to get the best out of the current players and makes some very strange decisions, also giving preference to Warriors players (understandable currently but not so much in the past) but who else is there.

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    • Preference to the Warriors? Aye, right. If that was the case (which it isnt), its because Glasgow perform better at club level than the chronic underachievers from the east!

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      • This remark illustrates my point exactly. Despite being from the Borders Toonie is Glasgow through and through, with an attitude just like yours. Even ex Glasgow get preference like Hogg over Kinghorn at 15.

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