Scotland v New Zealand: Finn Russell hadn’t heard from Gregor Townsend since before summer

Stand-off says he is not reading too much into the lack of communication

Finn Russell received a late call-up to the Scotland squad on Monday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Finn Russell received a late call-up to the Scotland squad on Monday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

FINN RUSSELL had not spoken to Gregor Townsend since before the summer when he found out that he had been omitted from Scotland’s Autumn Test Series training squad at the tail-end of last month.

But the stand-off, who received a late call-up to the group on Monday as a replacement for the injured Adam Hastings, insists that he is not reading too much into that lack of communication from the national team head coach.

In a sponsored interview with The Daily Mail, the 30-year-old playmaker explained that he exchanged texts with Townsend after his call-up and before his arrival in Edinburgh earlier today [Tuesday] in order to ensure that he is able to hit the ground running this week.


Hollie Davidson to referee Saturday’s World Cup Final

Autumn Test Series: Takeaways from this weekend’s action (5th & 6th November)

Scotland v New Zealand: Finn Russell called up by Gregor Townsend


“I hadn’t heard from Gregor since before the summer so I wasn’t too surprised,’ said Russell, when asked for his thoughts on being omitted from the original 40-man national training squad for this Autumn’s four-match Test series.

“It is what it is. It’s rugby, I suppose. I’ll see how it goes this weekend against the All Blacks. If I’m in the [match-day] squad or not I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.

“I haven’t been in the squad for a while so I’m not sure what the vibe is.”

Pressed on his current relationship with Townsend, Russell explained: “We’ve hardly spoken since the Six Nations and that’s just how it is. We’ve not spoken much at all.

“We’re alright, I suppose. He’ll have had his reasons so I’m not looking into it too much. There is no point me worrying about anything like that. I can’t control what happens with Scotland.

“There is not much I can do about the Scotland squad or who Gregor picks. That’s not my job. My job is to keep playing well in France. I’m happy doing it so I’ve kept that going.

“I’m not a coach and I’m not the one picking the team thankfully. I’ll get back into camp and worry about that then.

“I’ve texted him [Townsend] a few times just chatting about the attack system, shape, and a couple things around that,” he added. “Nothing too much. I’ll wait and see how it is when I get in.

“It was me needing clarity on a few things from the last year and a half. I had a few questions and got some good clarity back. I gave my thoughts and we had a couple of texts back and forth to discuss a few things so we were all clear on the attacking side before I go back in.

“I’m pretty chilled, to be honest. I haven’t been in since the Six Nations so I don’t know how the environment is going to be and how it’s all going.

“It will be easy enough to get up to speed on the rugby side. I’ve been playing long enough.”

Russell also explained that his arrival in Edinburgh was delayed until today [Tuesday] so that he could make sure that his pregnant partner, Emma Canning, had the necessary support in Paris while he is away on international duty.

“My girlfriend is pregnant and is due to give birth at any time. Her due date is November 23, so in two weeks, but the midwife said it could be two weeks or two days,” he said.

“We just don’t know. It will be good to get back into camp but, at the same time, it would be nice to be with her. I was happy either way.”


Hollie Davidson to referee Saturday’s World Cup Final

About David Barnes 3114 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.

14 Comments

  1. Undoubtedly, Finn Russell is an extra-ordinary talent who can change/impact a game as the 3rd BL test in RSA clearly showed, Toonie’s excuse and handling of the situation is inexcusable and greatly affects our RWC2023 chances though I believe slim at best with Ireland & South Africa favourites to go through. BK performed well against Australia but not in the same class in my opinion. I believe it will be all uphill from here on in and Toonie will leave/be fired.

  2. this is another article in search of a story. FR is 30, he’s a targeted player by most international defenses, he’s brilliant and someone else will replace him one day.

    Typical Scottish reponse to available talent is overuse until it’s no longer useable, in the meantime no other talent has been given breathing room to grow into the role.

    Thank goodness Townsend is keeping his eyes on the prize and trying to get others into the fold with meaningful experience rather than pushing FR into Autumn International games that mean significantly less than 6N or World cup performances.

    No doubt there’s been a bit of beef in the past but despite both player and coach saying “nothing to see here” the press is still digging for an angle, How about an in depth article concentrating on Townsend’s options and planning in the event that FR is injured and can’t play in 6N or RWC? Evaluate the man on his skills as a coach and team manager rather than whether or not he called a player enough over the summer.

  3. Gregor and finn have never got on and it started at glasgow where their professional attitudes are totally differnt. I watch racing 92 and finn gets about 30 chances a game and only the odd one or two he actually pulls off and hes called a superstar i think hes overrated and hastings is far better

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  4. I honestly can’t say if I support Townsend or not.
    He constantly surprises me just when I think, as a fan, that he’s made a massive selection or tactical error.

    This episode doesn’t have a great vibe tho. The one thing Townsend has done throughout is tinker, especially at the periphery.
    Bringing players in to the starting XV then dropping them from the squad altogether after 1 or 2 games, changing the bench kinda thing.
    Sam Johnson was often subjected to this.

    It’s now very possible that similar treatment will be meted out to Blair Kinghorn, a player who would be a walk on in almost any other Scotland team I’ve supported.

    Maybe Townsend will get away with it but it’s difficult to believe this kind of thing doesn’t affect momentum, direction and motivation of the team.

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  5. Both men likely at fault. There’s always two sides to every story. Nonetheless, one is a world class player and the other is paid to manage players. It is obvious where lies the ultimate problem.

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  6. Is it a surprise that Townsend hadn’t been in touch? Not really reflecting on the governance of Scottish Rugby over the period it is obvious that Townsend is pursuing an agenda to find an alternative to his ‘turbulent’ Fly-half, but at least he hasn’t ‘contracted out’ he sent Russell to Coventry via Paris all of his own bat.
    Accepting I am biased, let’s try and look at this in another way.
    If you wanted to find alternatives, for what ever reason, surely you would start with players recognised in that position in the first instance rather than trying to ‘manufacture’ a change of position for Kinghorn, who in his early days played there but either decided himself or from advice that Fullback or Wing would suit his skills better and made the move accordingly.
    Townsend hasn’t done that and along with Mike Blair [who for whatever reason seems to think this is the best use of Scotland’s resources] has pursued the BK experiment.
    Another way to look at it is that GT’s turbulent 10 is at fault, a supposed lacking performance in the last 6N [on reflection over the season it didn’t seem that bad, but again bias reigns] it followed on from a Lions tour and give the bloke the benefit of the doubt, he was off the boil but some would argue even off the boil he was a better bet than some other options.
    Russell plays behind a pretty decent pack at Racing, the Scottish pack need to replicate that against NZ on Sunday, can they, I hope so but I wouldn’t put the mortgage on it.
    However, whatever happens, no recriminations or I told you so, a concerted effort to get the 6N squad of the best players together, I’m not sure from the prognosis of the midwife that Russell regardless of Sunday will be available for Argentina but that should not preclude him from the 6N squad that has to be the sensible way forward for Scotland’s chances in France 2023.

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  7. GT creates a diversion by causing an issue over who plays 10
    Completely hides the real issue of poor selections, tactics and man management. He’s not taken us forward in any way – the opposite in fact
    Just because he was the best Scottish coach available doesn’t mean that he was the best option

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  8. Sounds a bit like if I ignore him the problem will go away, never works and the problem comes back to haunt you. His behaviour is grossly insulting and if he is head coach after the WC I will not be returning for my 51st season. For the sake of balance FR is not without blame in this as well.

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  9. Great to have him back. Should never have been left out in the first place, but this non contact stuff all a bit unnecessary the second his foot is back in the door.

    Incredible player but not everything has to be about him. Get the feeling he’s a bit hard work behind the scenes and people are fed up with it. Is Finn our Cipriani?

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  10. This situation beggars belief really. Townsend is head coach and it is his job to manage his squad irrespective of personal feelings. That is what he is paid for.World class number 10s are a limited resource and his excuse that Russell was omitted due to form and consistency is has no credibility and insults the player, the rest of the squad and the loyal paying fans. The sooner GT goes the better. He will not be missed.

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