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Townsend expressed frustration at not being able to select players for Scotland's training camps for the Six Nations due to unspecified reasons.
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Townsend expressed frustration at not being able to select players for Scotland’s training camps for the Six Nations due to unspecified reasons.

Gregor Townsend, the coach of Scotland, expressed strong frustration over not having five important players, including co-captain Finn Russell, available during team training sessions in the vacant weeks of this year’s Six Nations.

Due to circumstances, Russell was unable to participate in overseas training prior to Scotland’s victory over England. It is expected that he will face a similar situation before their next game against Italy, despite his club team, Bath, not having any matches or training sessions planned during the off week.

The members of Russell’s English club can go to England’s training camp before their game with Ireland due to an agreement with the Rugby Football Union. Townsend called the arrangement “completely ridiculous”.

Townsend refrained from mentioning it before the England match, but made sure to address it afterwards. “Our preparation was not ideal,” he stated.

“Prior to the game, England had twice the resources we did, as our players based in England were not permitted to train with us. This is despite the fact that there were no matches in the English Premiership and all clubs were on a one-week break. This puts us at a significant disadvantage, which I believe undermines the fairness of the competition.”

While England had the opportunity to hold four practice sessions with their entire team over the last two weeks, Scotland only had two. This was due to players such as Russell, Alec Hepburn, Elliot Millar-Mills, Andy Christie, and Cam Redpath being unavailable for half of that time due to their involvement with English clubs. As a result, Scotland had to rely on rookie fly-half Richie Simpson to fill in for Russell during training.

Duhan van der Merwe scores his and Scotland’s second try against England.

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Townsend praised the players for their ability to perform well in the game despite only having two practice sessions beforehand. However, he expressed disappointment in the current situation, stating that it is not ideal.

Scotland has been advocating for their players to be freed. Townsend shared that English clubs have expressed their interest in having the players train with the national team, but Premiership Rugby has stated that they are following World Rugby’s regulations. However, the parties involved have not yet come to an agreement on the necessary compensation for releasing the players, which was meant to be resolved last year. Until this matter is resolved, it is unlikely that the situation will change.

Townsend stated that they doubt the change will occur for Italy next week. If it does happen, it would be even more disappointing that it did not happen this week as well.

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Typically, our rule states that we can only select players from locations outside of Scotland during scheduled international training weeks. This is to prevent players from missing important club games. However, when there is no club competition, it doesn’t make sense to restrict a player from traveling from a place like Bath. This would allow them to spend time with their families and assist us in our preparation.

They will not be doing anything productive. Townsend explained that it’s due to the limited time for training and the breaks in between matches give teams the opportunity for two high-quality sessions.

Since Scotland will be facing Italy in their next match, they may have an advantage. However, Townsend understandably isn’t assuming victory and mentioned the need for improvement in their defense. It’s noteworthy that Scotland still has concerns despite their nine-point win against England, indicating a shift in perspective.

Source: theguardian.com