Scotland v Fiji: Gregor Townsend tight-lipped about potential Finn Russell recall

Adam Hastings ia major doubt for next Sunday's All Blacks match after suffering whiplash and a knee injury

Scotland celebrate Ben White's try versus Fiji. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scotland celebrate Ben White's try versus Fiji. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GREGOR TOWNSEND was tight-lipped about whether Finn Russell could receive a late call-up to Scotland’s Autumn Nations Series squad ahead of next Sunday’s clash against the All Blacks if Adam Hastings is ruled out of that game due to the injuries he suffered against Fiji this afternoon.

“Adam will go through a second process with his head, and he has a knee issue that is getting looked at as well,” explained Townsend after watching his team beat Fiji 28-12 in a scrappy match at Murrayfield. The coach was then asked if he has been in touch with Russell recently.

“Since the squad has been together, no,” Townsend replied to that enquiry. “He will be in the mix, of course. How are relations? Fine, yeah. People who are not in the squad, I don’t phone up regularly unless there’s something to talk about.


Scotland v Fiji: uninspiring win gives hosts some momentum ahead of All Blacks Test

Talented teenagers bring Fijian flair to GHA’s Premiership campaign

Schools/Youth rugby round-up: Watson’s go top of Schools’ National One Conference


“I’d imagine he will be available. He was disappointed not to be selected in the squad. If we decide to bring in another ten, he’s one of the ones we’ll be looking at.

“There are a lot of players out of the camp and within the camp. Our focus has been on the players in the camp in this two-week period.”

Hastings had a mixed 42 minutes before suffering his double-injury. He scored a crucial try just before half-time when he had the wherewithal to hold onto the ball and ride Kalaveti Ravouvou’s uncharacteristically weak tackle to dot down under the posts, but there was some wayward kicking and he struggled to pick holes in Fiji’s aggressive defence.

“I thought Adam did well in a lot of areas,” insisted Townsend. “We didn’t get as much ball in the first half, but when we started changing direction to try to pick off defenders, he looked confident and took his try well. Then we had a period where we didn’t have much ball.

Blair [Kinghorn], when he came on, it was a a stop-start game. I thought he put pace on things, but we weren’t as accurate in attack.”

Scotland’s other injury concern is hooker George Turner. “George has a shoulder issue that he’s on his way to get scanned,” explained Townsend, speaking half an hour after the full-time whistle.

While the All Blacks are not currently the force we have become used to, there is no doubt that a major step-up in performance level will be required if Scotland are to be competitive against a side they have never beaten.

“We can’t give away as many penalties, that’s for sure,” said Townsend, having watched his team cough up seven penalties in the first half, including four for offside, and 12 overall against Fiji.

“We’ve got to convert when we have opportunities, which we didn’t do enough today. We did have opportunities in the first half, and a lot in the second half.

“In the second half, a lot of them led to penalties, but we won’t get as many opportunities to score tries next week so we’ve got to make sure we take them.”

adrotate banner=”137″]

 

Pressed on whether he is concerned that Scotland are earning a reputation for giving away lots of penalties, Townsend reasoned that each game should be assessed on an individual basis.

“We won the penalty count today and we won it last week,” he said. “You take games into context. 14 was a lot last week, but the opposition conceded 15. Today the opposition gave away 17. Sometimes games become high penalty counts. We have to set our own standards.

“Single figures is always an area you want to get to and we were within that with about two minutes to go, so we sorted out the problems at half time.

“If we do that [concede so many] next week, there is going to be a lot of defending in our own 22, yellow cards and defending with 14 men. But we learned the lesson in the first half and it was much better in the second.”

“All the penalties in the first half bar one were against the defence, for both teams,” he added. “When you know the referee and assistant referees are being really strict on the defence, you’ve got to be even further away from the edge that players play on. A lot of that was on the offside line.

“Discipline is a broad area. At times it can be in the set-piece but our set-piece was very strong today. It was what we were doing in defence that needs to improve.

“From a coach’s point of view, you are always looking at performance. What needs to improve to win the game, what needs to be improved through the week.

“We improved to win the game but there are certainly things we will have to improve for next week.

“The players know they can play better but they are delighted that they won for Scotland. We are all aware we will have to play better next week.”


Scotland v Fiji: uninspiring win gives hosts some momentum ahead of All Blacks Test

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.

70 Comments

  1. Not having been on here for some time, nothing seems to have changed. Dire performances from Scotland, players have changed, the one thing that is consistent is the presence of GT. Press conferences are tight lipped, and seriously tight arsed. Is he as emotionally constipated as much as he appears to be. Promoting the game, and by God it needs it, is definitely not on the agenda.

    GT is proud of his library of coaching books. He has them all. No doubt read most. Probably pages through them at half time finding the page that tells him what to do in the second half. He could replace them all for one from Jim Telfer! Or as he found at Twickenham chuck them all out and let the players play free. (We are still living with the consequences of that proud and wonderful second half. All because of one man’s ego was publicly pricked.)

    GT is having to eat loads of humble pie, (just found out) in public by bringing back Russell. Pathetic enough to not just leave out Russell from the squad, he had to have his usual snide comments. The fact he hasn’t kept in contact with FR at all since then lets you know his arrogant, I am the man in charge here, attitude. Beware Gregor who you s*** on on the way up, you might meet them on the way down. If Townsend’s credibility isn’t totally shot, then how bad does it have to get?

    If FR is selected, I’d be suprised if he has a good game. He has a head coach who doesn’t want him there, doesn’t want him to do well, doesn’t want him to star as he does for Racing. Face up to it Gregor, you’re better suited to schools rugby than the grown up game.

    7
    1
  2. Whilst everyone seems to want a change of coach, who is going to step into the breach? Who is going to want the job, given the apparent toxic culture in the SRU,to which many on here allude.
    After reading the weekends HYS on the BBC, half the Welsh want Pivac out, most of the English want rid of Jones, even Fosters coat was on a shortly peg before Saturday. Is public opinion just going to create a merry go round of coaches like football?
    I see some are touting Mike Blair already, yet we decried GT for lack of experience.
    Be careful what we wish for

    • Something to throw into the mix. Townsend has seemingly been chasing Fin Smith but what promising dual qualified player would want to play for Townsend. He only needs to look at how Townsend has treated his team-mate Hutchinson, consider by many to be the best centre playing in England. Could be a pernicious legacy.

      5
      1
  3. Interesting results at the week end. That poor Australian team narrowly defeated by the WC favourites and the team we should have beaten on their own patch had an interesting result at HQ. 😊

    5
    6
    • Or did the team we beat in February lose to the team that beat us in the summer? 🙂

      As for Australia, I thought they were an order of magnitude better than they were last week but still a distant second to a misfiring France. Good for them that they rode their luck to keep it close; that looks like Scotland’s best hope of pulling off any meaningful result in the forseeable future.

      I think the most telling comparison to make is how France still managed to construct a winning score from almost nothing whereas Scotland couldn’t take advantage of the much easier chance they were pretty much gifted to win last week.

      5
      2
    • The frustrating fact is you say ‘we should have beaten’ Argentina but still don’t criticise or expand the reasons to anything like the degree your past status suggest you could with your background or contacts.
      Argentina summer tour situation where we put 30 odd points to a couple of penalties in 2nd test and were 15 points to the good with 30 minutes to go and let them back in the game with decisions on field that would be doubtful in a club game otherwise they would be carded for the ExB next time out, and with the frustrating ‘Water-Boys’ and Physio’s able to invade the pitch at the drop of a boot lace with instructions from the Coaching staff, nobody takes the blame, it’s always ‘we will learn from this’ Twaddle.
      You have said in the past [I’ve read the post] that you don’t think Townsend is a good coach, can you be happy with the Governance at the present time, do you consider that with the draw in France we have anything to loose by looking for improvement in the coaching system immediately by either changing attitudes or personnel, one or the other, and using the good players we have both in the squad and the discards who can be seen to perform week in week out in the Premiership down South.

  4. So difficult to judge from a distance and as someone else said, a lot of moving parts.

    Think worth remembering that the SRU bonuses were announced on 15 January 2020 attracting widespread condemnation and allegations of attempted cover-up, whatever the rights or wrongs.

    It must have been excruciating for Finn Russell to pitch up for duty that week given his father’s treatment by that same Board.

    With no training the day after he had a few beers. The rest is history although no-one seems to speak of exactly what happened.

    Sir Alex Ferguson is often quoted on this site. I feel he would have seen this coming a mile off, realised the danger and put his arm round that boy.

    5
    3
  5. Watched a comment on line from Matt Williams (remember him?) saying the word on the street is the majority of players in the Scotland set up have had enough of having 1 set of rules for the special ones and another for the rest and demanded action. We have heard these rumours before but if this is the truth then GT has on one hand done well to not air this as the reason for not picking Russel but on the other, as manager should have ‘managed’ the situation to keep everyone on board. My opinion is that there is no debating Russel in one of the best fly half’s we have and should have been in camp playing for his place, I’m sure he’ll be disappointed at not having a go at NZ. Townsend , in not picking him really should have given Thomson a run out before now. He will be on the bench next Saturday if Hastings fails protocols and Kinghorn will have been found out by half time.

    2
    2
  6. Is this a set up?

    Finn and his girlfriend are due to have their first baby. Now a couple of days overdue. But surely Gregor can’t expect him to come over?

    5
    1
  7. Interesting to reflect after all the weekends games are completed. France just squeezing past Australia who beat us by a point last week and today Argentina beating England at Twickers having just beaten us 2-1 in the summer.

    Perhaps puts things in perspective. A lot of criticism was thrown at us for not beating Argentina away with a few players missing and yet they beat England. Australia were probably unlucky to lose to France and yet we should have beaten them last week. So maybe were not so far off the pace as we think, Are expectations a bit high?. The knifes are already out for Eddie Jones (have been for a while) and I can imagine what stick he’ll be getting on the English rugby website.

    If we then look at Wales getting hammered by the All Blacks and i do look at the Welsh rugby chatline – the comments on this site are mild in comparison and Pivacs head is on the block. So Townsend is certainly not alone in being unpopular.

    From this weeks games it feels like there’s not a lot between us, Aus, England and Argentina but a definite step up to the AB’s, Ireland, South Africa and France (giving them the benefit for a slow start).

    It will be interesting to see if this order still remains in a few weeks time and we will find out next week if we can compete with the AB’s or we are in this 2nd mediocre group.

    6
    3
    • Hi Ross I appreciate your point of view, but I feel your grasping at straws. It doesn’t matter about Jones or Pivac it’s about us. If we win one of our next two games and three six nations games does that put us in a good place (probably yes with the way things are). I just feel England and Wales getting beat is irrelevant. Englands defeat was classed as a shock, if we loose it want be. We under this present regime have presently lost our way.

      6
      1
      • Not sure I’m grasping at straws Robert – i was simply stating the facts regards the weekends results and current pecking order. Not saying it make it any better for us because Pica and Jones are also under pressure I was more making the point that our results are not quite as bad as many make out with expectations perhaps a bit high.

  8. Tom English as always makes interesting reading on the bbc. Some thoughts, if Hastings is currently involved in a return to play protocol we won’t have an answer until late in the week. A good manager/coach would already be preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. So a replacement 10 would already have been called for, as calling a replacement in at the last minute ain’t going to work . Of course if we don’t have a good coach/manager……….
    Gregor Townsend seems to be of the belief that it is his Scotland team when in fact it is Scotland’s team and it is his job to get the best team on the park and playing the best rugby they can. If he doesn’t have the management skills to get the best team on the park he should really consider his position .

    Actually if he can’t get the best team on the park his boss should be calling him out. Ah but wait Mr Dodson has issues with the Russell family, so he’s not going to do his job either.

    Townsend is going to take us through RWC 23, and again it’s going to be a car crash. It is so frustrating that everyone can see it happening but just have to put up with it!! Wake me up in 24 . There’s a book title out there “Scottish Rugby, Townsend the wasted years!!”

    18
    1
  9. Reflecting on Townsend’s post match interview regarding Russell’s future inclusion leaves me totally bemused
    Who are all the other 10’s ‘in the mix’ ? Gregor needs to realise that the longer this farce goes on the more damage he is inflicting on the team and fans alike

    23
    2
    • Good to the point comments. Townsend has got stuck in a rut unfortunately not only re Russell but also other players like Price and Harris. We played with more pace when White came on for Price as we had a week earlier when Horne came on against the Aussies. Bennett offers far more threat than Harris. Beginning to feel Townsend has either got to change or go. Better now than after the 6 Nations.

      12
  10. I’d love Russell to be in the squad and play

    But not at any cost

    An awful lot of folk seem to think they know what is going on. They don’t. Nor do I so I make no judgements
    An awful lot of people think whatever is going on its down to Townsend to sort. Which it is of course. But it takes both parties to tango; sometimes one won’t play and it does not matter who the other party is, there is no solution without both sides being sensible.
    And in any pro sport, if its down to a choice between one extremely talented player and the coach, there should only be one outcome

    13
    23
    • I’m sorry but of course we know what is going on. How can you suggest we don’t when you read the reports on a ‘Tight lipped Townsend’ or you go to Tom English and read his report of the after match ‘chat’ with Townsend, ‘he will be in the mix’.
      Frankly the more I think about it the more inclined I am to say in some respects I hope Russell tells Townsend to swivel but the vision then is Kinghorn [who is being used] and Thomson will both be the potential sacrificial Lambs on the alter of Townsend’s petulance.
      It is a hard call but I would rather see Townsend strung up by his own Petard.

      17
      4
      • you don’t know. You refer to media articles. Not one is explicitly claiming to know
        Clueless

        3
        16
      • Well thank you for you polite difference of opinion. Obviously your understanding of the words and attitude of Townsend diverge from mine. Obviously you do not [and why should you] read all of my comments because I have commented that it obviously a two way problem.
        Perhaps on reflection you may consider ‘clueless’ is just slightly off the mark.

        13
        2
      • Ok I’ll address it for you. The fact of the matter is Russell is an outstanding 10 and Townsend is a mediocre international coach. Everything else is a side show. Townsend should have gone 3 years ago and if he had we would not have to endure this pathetic spat.

        17
        1
    • Whatever else has gone on in the past, Russell has, over the last few weeks, maintained his dignity and silence while the senior figure has taken thinly veiled shots at him in the media. As such our coach only had himself to blame if he appears to be proud and pig headed. I think that it is the sniping and non truths in the media that has turned the fans against Townsend more than anything.

      18
      2
    • Townsend is a bang-average coach.
      Russell is a generational talent.
      You’re damn right there should only be one outcome – taxi for Gregor!

      14
      2
    • Yes, but Townsend dressing up his excuse not to pick Russell as due to “form” is insulting to anyone with any rugby intelligence. If Townsend had said “we have team standards and Finn hasn’t met these” i would accept that but Townsend has backed himself into a hole that he now can’t get out of.

      As to Gt’s coaching skills, I clearly recall that even when things were going g well at Glasgow there were huge frustrations that Townsend had no plan B and Plan A either worked or it didn’t. At no point has Townsend show any ability to pragmatically manage his resources and to flex to the challenges. He now comes across as just pig-headed and deluded in his view of his abilities as a coach. If he loses the Scotland gig, who would want him?

      As a pipe dream I’d suggest Dan McFarland to replace Townsend. But why on earth would DMcF do that given the SRU and GT shitshow compared to Ulster and IRFU?

      7
      1
  11. O to be Gregor now the All Blacks are near. He has made his bed with Finn and if Hastings is not fit for next week , he will have to be more of a man than I think he is and ask Finn, after the abuse he has subjected him to come and save his bacon. The problem with that is Finn has not been with the squad this year, so if I was him I would leave Gregor to sort out his own mess. That mess in the absence of Hastings is to play Kinghorn and Thompson at 10.
    So where are we next week , well Ashman has to start along with Horne and Dempsey along with an 80 minute non stop effort. One small ray of light France only just beat Australia by 1 point.

    16
    1
    • On reflection and with regret I think you make a good point about allowing Townsend to stew in his on Juice. What’s in it for Russell? He is on a no win situation in many ways. Will he be able to beat the AB’s on his own? Unlikely, it will be hard to keep them to 50 points, Wales made a decent fist of it yesterday as regards France v Australia, I think France were rusty and Australia a bit better for having the benefit of hanging on in their last week and sneaking home.

      14
      1
      • If that Australia had turned up at Murrayfield last week we would have been spanked.

        Even so, I thought they were still a very distant second-best last night and rode their luck to keep the game close.

    • Abuse?

      Russell has been with the squad this year, all through the 6N. Where his form was indeed rubbish, as he admitted.

      I want Russell back in the team too; I also think it’s time Townsend moved on. But I don’t understand why fans see the need to just make stuff up.

      4
      3
  12. It is about time GT came clean over his non-selection of FR for the Scotland squad. When initially asked his reply was that FR was not ‘in form’. This was shown to be a big fib by Racing’s comments and FR’s record so far this season. Yes, FR can be unpredictable, but this is just the quality that strikes fear into the opposition. And on this theme, if GT had been in charge of Scotland in the nineties and early twenties it is likely he would not have picked himself!

  13. At risk of a trip down to ‘Boots’ for a couple of packs of Incontinence Pads, whether or not Townsend brings Russell back into the Squad [and even then I wouldn’t put it past him starting Kinghorn against AB’s] there needs to be the thought of Townsend going [or radically changing his approach] before the 6N in order to attempt to get a cohesive squad and plan together for the World Cup in 10 months time.
    We’ve a very difficult group Ireland and SA and a daunting start to the 6N away to England in just over 2 months time, so what’s to loose with at least attempting to find another ‘Vern’ who can take an excellent potential squad on rather than limping along insisting you can make a SH out of a FB, if you want to do that why not arguably convert Hogg? That isn’t anymore ‘Off the Wall’ than Kinghorn.
    FF responded to the change of coach suggestion “Main problem is that v few high calibre coaches will be available at this point of RWC-cycle”: very valid point, however if the whisper goes out you never know who gets in touch with the Powers that be – hang on that isn’t going to work either, we’re doomed!
    With that thought in mind we’re not going to get any change out of Roseburn Street the only chance is if some of the back-room coaching staff have a coupe d’etat and in some way get Townsend to swallow such pride as he has left and make the best squad out of the best players that means on form and no baggage.

    22
    2
  14. Very little to cheer about yesterday. There’s zero momentum being built and no upward trajectory. You know its bad when the highlight was a Mexican wave. If Hastings is out it surely puts Toony in a tight spot but it sounds like he’s got a few options available as a back up based on his quote. I just wish I knew who they were. It was a great chance to finally beat NZ but based on the performances yesterday we might be in a bit of bother.

    15
  15. If you read the Rugbyrama report of Racing v Perpignan you’ll see that Russell is said to be in his best form since coming to Paris. He can came on and turned the entire match around.

    But apparently he needs to work on his consistency and form. But when asked if he was monitoring Finn’s form and consistency, Gregor channeled all of his best “I don’t know what my ex is up to this weekend and I don’t care” vibes and claimed to be unaware of when the Racing match was taking place.

    Is this what people want? Really?

    21
    • No it isn’t what they want or deserve. I can well remember one of my Guvnor’s sitting back in his chair and looking across the desk at Chummy and saying “You need more than a good memory to be a liar, the lies need to have credibility as well”. I rest my case.

      11
  16. Bunch of pant wetters on here.
    We’re due a performance from the team. Let’s hope it’s next weekend.

    6
    25
  17. I must be the only person in Scotland who doesn’t think things are that bad.

    Australia result was massively frustrating but look how close they took France.

    Yes Townsend is a frustrating and inconsistent coach but he usually manages to pull a performance out of the team at some stage and we’re due one.

    I just wish he was more consistent and less of a micro manager.

    5
    21
    • Of course you are not alone, there’ Townsend, Dodson and a couple of others, you’re not quite alone.

      21
      7
    • Yes Townsend is a consistent coach , yes we occasionally play well but equally we also play some real shockers

  18. The situation gets progressively worse and still the coach is in denial. Nothing it appears will move him, as he clings to his job like a limpet. Yesterday was a moral victory for Big Vern, who must have been shaking his head and wondering why he was moved on for this.

    25
    4
    • Fiji were an absolute shambles. Cotter was sacked from his previous job for a good reason. The only reason we were able to beat them is that he’s actually worse than Townsend

      3
      35
      • Does that make our result better? Agree Fiji over did the “unstructured” bit but we had very little control. I doubt what transpired on pitch bore much relation to Cotters coach plan. Pretty similar I would have thought to what GT wanted to happen which didn’t work out either

        Given the difficulties Fiji had just getting their team together I thought it a good outing

        10
      • It is somewhat of a backhanded compliment, however a team only just ‘cobbled’ together, some loosing passports, 3 Yellow cards and pretty obviously running out of steam [fitness?] in the second half, for an absolute shambles I thought they did quite well.

    • Moral victory? What a load of nonsense.

      Fiji played well enough but they should be a very competitive side. Their entire squad except for one player, plays in either Super Rugby, the Top 14 the URC and English Premiership. They aren’t a bunch of mugs and it’s quite dismissive to describe a 16pt loss as a moral victory. I’m also not sure there is much evidence that Cotter has had much positive impact on Fiji yet. They’ve been a competitive side with a rubbish set piece for a while.

      7
      6
      • Well perhaps not a moral victory that’s a bit hyperbolic, however with the ‘Back-Office’ organisation mirroring the Fijian Devil me care approach with ‘shoe in’ players and lost passports, 3 Yellow cards, and running out of steam in the second half with hardly anytime together as a coached entity, perhaps on reflection 16 points, especially with one of the tries scored through a Gap the size of the Grand Canyon accounting for 7 of them, they didn’t do that badly.
        On the other hand you could say that we didn’t do that well considering those factors, as every other opinions are available.

        3
        1
  19. The post match Townsend exchange with Tom English was so embarrassing and a terrible reflection on Scottish rugby. Its like Brexit. We all know the situation is awful, we all know the cause of the awfulness, but no one will stand up say it.

    34
    3
  20. Of course he’s tight-lipped, he’s regretting the pigheaded stance of leaving out our best ever player, from a series of excellent test, less than a year away from the last RWC he’ll probably ever grace.

    42
    4
  21. Racing v Perpignan W 42 – 20.
    For the information of all, and one in particular, Russell was on the bench but came on at 41minutes, scored a try, converted 3 and kicked a penalty.

    46
      • He has played 80 minutes just about every game this season. I presume Racing were trying to manage his game time. He came on and transformed the match. As others have said, Finn is a once in a generation talent. Our one true world class player. I don’t think many of the Scottish public want to be deprived of the chance to see him lead the attack, while he is in his prime. It is unlikely we will get out of our world cup group whoever we select. We need to be winning games now and in the six nations and getting the rugby public excited again.
        While we are about it, I have no idea why Rory Hutchinson has not had a decent opportunity. I presume they have concerns about his defence. Hard to tell when he is never selected. He’s looked very good for Northampton for many years. We play centres like Tuipulotou and Harris who don’t have the passing skills to get our back 3 into space.

  22. If he doesn’t recal Finn he’ll have to give a reason why …
    Hope he has a good one …other than pettiness .

    34
    • There are more individuals that believe Lord Lucan slipped out of the country and lived in darkest Africa shaved his moustache and used his mobile phone to play on ‘BetFred’ than believe that Townsend ‘honestly’ considers that Russell isn’t in form suggesting as does that Racing 92 are happy with a lazy underperforming Fly-half.

      39
      • Putting BK out against the All Blacks is scary – don’t even think GT would gamble on that selection – if I were Russell I wouldn’t be trusting a word Townsend is saying at the moment – good chance he ends up being the fall guy – or is GT holding out for FR unavailability due to imminent new fatherhood status

        21
  23. If Scotland play like that against New Zealand I fear it be a long day for them.
    This performance was not good enough for Scotland. Yes we did score four tries.
    We need to up our game against New Zealand to get anything of the match

    20
  24. Racing scored 92 today – don’t know any more – presume they won and presume finn was playing!

  25. They’ll be absolutely stuffed without Finn! 100 points possible? P45 due for the main man!

    16
    1

Comments are closed.