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'Something serious has clearly gone down' | Tom English on Finn Russell exit

Eoin Harte
Eoin Harte

18:45 23 Jan 2020


Something serious must have happened for Finn Russell to be ruled out of Scotland’s Six Nations opener due to a “protocol breach”, according to rugby writer Tom English.

English was speaking to Off The Ball about the recent developments in Gregor Townsend’s squad and touched on previous tension between the head coach and Russell.

“There is some dubiety over whether he was sent home or he walked out. There have been difficulties between Finn Russell and Gregor Townsend going back a little while.

“I think it kind of came to a head at half-time in the last game of the Six Nations at Twickenham. Scotland were annihilated in the first half. I think they were 31-7 down at the break.

“There was a big contretemps in the dressing room between the two of them. I think they went into a side room in the Twickenham dressing rooms and they had it out.

“Scotland made a recovery, ended up drawing the match and at the time it was downplayed as 'things that happen in the midst of a crisis.'

“Two honest guys getting in a heated debate for the good of the team.’ I think it was a lot more serious than that.

“I think it was, as we understood it anyway, the first manifestation of difficulties in the relationship between the two of them,” English said.

Finn Russell exit

It is not yet known whether the Racing 92 fly-half will play any role in this year’s Six Nations, which is a huge blow to Scotland’s chances.

“Today we’ve had the catastrophic news for Scotland that he’s gone and he’s not going to be playing against Ireland.

“Will he be playing for the rest of the Six Nations? We don’t know. Does he want to play in the rest of the Six Nations under Gregor Townsend? We don’t know.

“Does Gregor Townsend want him back? We don’t know that either. So there is an awful lot still to be clarified in all of this,” English commented.

Very little information has come out about the “protocol breach” by Finn Russell and English explained that those in the camp are keeping very quiet about the whole affair.

“[Russell] would have been [a leader in the squad] and a big personality. I think he will be missed. Some players that I have relationships within the Scotland squad - you might talk to them off the record on various things.

“Today none of them were saying anything. They just did not want to get involved at all. Even off the record. So I think something serious has clearly gone down,” English said.

Scotland take on Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, February 1st in their first game of the 2020 Six Nations campaign.

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