GREGOR TOWNSEND has signed a one year extension to his contract as Scotland national team head coach, which will now run until 2021. Assistant coaches Matt Taylor and Mike Blair have also signed deals, to 2021 and 2020 respectively.
Taylor’s signature is particularly good news given that he has been linked with a number of attractive jobs outside Scotland, including as defence coach in Eddie Jones’ England set-up.
There is, however, still no news on whether forwards coach Dan McFarland will be released by the SRU from his contract before his notice period expires in January 2019, so that he can take up his new job as head coach of Ulster. Danny Wilson is already in position to take over McFarland’s role within the Scotland camp, but the SRU seem determined to play hardball with both the coach, the Irish province and the IRFU.
“I have always been incredibly proud to coach Scotland and I’m delighted and grateful to be able to extend my involvement with the national team,” said Townsend.“It’s a privilege to coach such a hardworking group of quality players, which is continuing to grow in depth.”
“It’s great that the immediate future of our coaching staff has also been secured, as Matt (Taylor) and Mike (Blair) contribute massively to what we do as a group.We are really looking forward to Danny (Wilson) joining up with us (as forwards coach), which will enable us to seek further improvements in how we can bring the best out of our players.”
Scotland are now entering the final lap in the race to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, with just 13 Test matches to be played before the tournament kicks of next September. Scotland’s form under Townsend has been exhilarating at times, but there have also been some very disappointing showings, so building consistency is going to be the key challenge during the year ahead.
“There’s certainly a lot of improvement to be found – both from us as coaches and also our playing performances – but we’ve also seen some excellent displays over the past season, as well as a genuine desire from the players to give their best for their country,” he said.
“I’ve been really pleased with the way the squad has come together whenever we’ve been in camp. The players have built strong relationships with each other, trained with intensity and learned quickly after any setbacks we have faced. They have also been terrific ambassadors for their country on tours or whenever they have interacted with our supporters.
“We’re well aware we’re entering a crucial and exciting time for this group, as we continue to seek improvements across the board and target a strong Autumn Test series and Six Nations, before our build up to the Rugby World Cup begins in earnest.”