SCOTLAND’S hard-fought victory over Wales at Parc y Scarlets earlier today could have come at a fairly significant cost, with stand-offs Finn Russell and Adam Hastings both picking up injuries which throw their involvement in the remainder of this Autumn’s Test schedule into doubt.
Scotland will have next weekend off before returning to action in the Nations Cup, which will see them play four matches against Italy (away), France and Fiji (both at home), then a play-off match (opponents and venue to be confirmed) on consecutive weekends between 14th November and 5th December.
“Finn is in more pain than Adam,” explained Townsend. “He was involved in a tackle and his leg just went to the side. He felt something go in his groin/adductor. It’s similar to what Grant Gilchrist did over in Munster with Edinburgh, and a couple of days later he thought he would be okay but that wasn’t the case – he’s had to have surgery [and has been ruled out of action for the remainder of the Autumn].”
Scroll down to continue reading:
The Offside Line Season Appeal 2020 - 2021
Since our launch in 2016, The Offside Line has established itself as the leading independent, dedicated media outlet for Scottish rugby, averaging just over 250,000 page views per calendar month during 2020 – which is not bad going given that the game was in lockdown for five of those months!
We are passionate about rugby at all levels across the whole of Scotland (and beyond) and are committed to continue shining a light on our sport in order to maintain its profile during these uncertain times.
We also believe that it is more important than ever that we report on and analyse how the game is being run locally, nationally and globally, at a time when some major decisions on issues such as season-structure and finance will have a profound impact on rugby’s future.
If you value what we do and feel able to support us in our quest to continually grow the breadth and depth of Scottish rugby coverage, you can do this by making a one-off donation, or by supporting us with a monthly contribution.
Thank you for reading The Offside Line.
“Adam popped – subluxed is the technical term – his shoulder twice in the second half. The first went back in quite quickly and he carried on, but the second one he had to be removed from the field of play. Hopefully it won’t keep him out too long.
“We’ve got a week off to reflect on that and see where Finn and Adam are,” he added. “We’re hoping their injuries aren’t serious but it does look quite bad just now.”
If both players are ruled out then Townsend does have options at 10. The coach explained that he decided against moving James Lang to stand-off yesterday because there was nobody on the field suited to taking over his inside centre slot, but the Harlequins man has played there regularly at club level in the past so could be an option as a starter for Scotland.
He also suggested that Duncan Weir could come into the reckoning after some excellent performances for Worcester Warriors since rugby resumed, while Edinburgh’s South African-born playmaker Jaco van der Walt will qualify to play for Scotland on residency grounds in time for the visit of France to Murrayfield on 22nd November
“Duncan Weir has been playing really well [for Worcester Warriors] and Jaco van der Walt [Edinburgh’s South-African becomes qualified for France or Fiji.”
Captain Stuart Hogg moved to 10 during the game, but is not likely to be deployed there from the start.
“It was the easiest decision for the team, explained Hogg afterwards.” It was a case of just moving one person out of position. I am old enough and ugly enough to go in at ten, and have enough experience . I would not want to start there but I thought Ali Price at scrum-half helped us control the last 20 minutes so fair play to him.”
While the injuries to Russell and Hastings could create a headache when attention turns towards the Italy, Townsend was not prepared to let concern over that detract from a moment which he and his team are entitled to savour. It was the first time Scotland have beaten Wales in Wales since 2002, and all the more satisfying for the character the team showed to get the result.
“It is great for this group to have some sort of confirmation that the hard work and progress that they are making his paying off,” said Townsend. “We had to work hard for that win which was good to see in a difficult situation with no crowds, good to see with the [difficult] wind, and good to see with the injuries we had – to see that character and power in the second half was really encouraging.”
It is a remarkable turnaround in fortunes from this time last year when Scotland had just returned home from the World Cup in Japan with their collective tails between their legs, having been catapulted out of the tournament at the end of the pool stage.
“We’ve had games before this Six Nations when our defence has been very good, but at times we’ve made it easy for teams both defensively and in what we have been doing in attack,” explained Townsend, when asked about how the squad has moved on from that bitter experience. “Now we stay in the fight every game and although we didn’t get the rewards in the Ireland and England game, but we’ve won the last three games, and we know there is a lot more to come.
“With no crowd here, it’s hard to recreate that feeling you get when you beat England at home [in 2018],” he replied, when asked where this result ranks as a coaching highlight. “Nothing will come close to matching that just now, but when you see what it means to the players to finally get that win … they’re delighted. And for the millions of Scots watching at home, it will have lifted their spirits which is great.”