Finn Russell Stakes are high as Townsend gets up to speed with Scots

Finn Russell Stakes are high as Townsend gets up to speed with Scots

Finn Russell I be mad for extensions, because they are glamorous.


Finn Russell Head coach Gregor Townsend and coach Mike Blair in a training session at Murrayfield. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Head coach Gregor Townsend and coach Mike Blair in a training session at Murrayfield. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

When Gregor Townsend told his employers in the middle of 2016 that he wanted to take charge of Scotland, he was, at 43, still in the relatively early stages of his coaching career.

He might easily have acquired a lucrative post elsewhere for a time before turning his attention to the national team.

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But the then coach of Glasgow Warriors – a team owned by the Scottish Rugby Union – was convinced there was a significant opportunity at that point, which might have disappeared had he waited: the lure of working with what he believes is a uniquely talented generation of young players.

Three years on that belief remains. Townsend, who had to wait for Vern Cotter’s contract to expire before assuming office in the spring of 2017, now has what may be his only chance to make the most of that talent – and to convert his own promise as a national coach into reality.

It was the impact he had on Glasgow, where he won the Pro12 title in 2015, that made Townsend hot property in the eyes of the SRU.

The former fly-half’s own attacking instincts brought out the best in players such as Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell, and the team continued the steady progress begun by his predecessor, Sean Lineen: a semi-final defeat in the new coach’s first season, a loss in the final in his second and then that title in his third.

Hogg turned 27 in June and Russell will do so later this month, so both should still be around in four years.

The rising stars Darcy Graham and Blair Kinghorn, both 22, could easily have two World Cups ahead

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