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Russell sheds light on relationship with Townsend after 'bust-up'

SPOTLIGHT: Finn Russell believes his appointment as Scotland co-captain for the upcoming Six Nations is proof of how a once strained relationship with head coach Gregor Townsend has been repaired.

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The 31-year-old flyhalf was named as skipper, along with loose forward Rory Darge, last weekend, with the first outing for the new leadership duo Scotland’s Six Nations opener away to Wales on February 3.

Back in 2020, Russell and Townsend – himself a former Scotland playmaker – had a well-publicised falling out when the flyhalf left the squad ahead of the Six Nations after being disciplined for failing to turn up for training following a drinking session.

Two years later, another unauthorised night out during the Six Nations led Townsend to drop Russell from his squad for the subsequent November internationals.

But fears that Russell’s international career would be cut short ended when the pair had talks midway through that series, with the gifted No.10 recalled.

Now the 75-times capped Russell is all set to lead Scotland after Townsend stripped loose forward Jamie Ritchie of the captaincy following a difficult World Cup in France where the Scots failed to get out of a tough pool featuring eventual champions South Africa and Ireland, the reigning Six Nations title-holders.

The story continues below…

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“I think 2020 would have been the closest to that,” Russell said Wednesday when asked if he ever thought his Scotland career was over.

“I was still young enough then that I wouldn’t have said I’d have been done [with Scotland], but with the relationship me and Gregor had, it was potentially tough at the time to see a way back for both of us but I think it shows how well we’ve both dealt with it since then.”

Russell, now at English Premiership side Bath after a five-year stint at Paris-based Racing 92, added: “It shows how we’ve both changed and adapted off the back of that situation.

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“A bust-up happened, that’s kind of all it was, but six months later we were back on good enough terms that I then came back that November.

“And then in 2022, there was another slight fall-out again I suppose, but then I came back again in the November and we were both back on the same page.”

He suggested their resurrected relationship could now even “drive the team on to a title.”

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