Finn Russell exits Scotland squad

Scotland’s standoff superstar Finn Russell will play no part in preparations for the the Six Nations game against Ireland following a “breach of team protocol”.

Initial reports from the BBC suggested that the mercurial playmaker could sit out the entire tournament, although the official SRU statement released shortly afterwards has been worded to leave the door open for the following games, the next of which is against England.

Russell was one of the masterminds of last years Calcutta Cup comeback following an alleged discussion/argument with head coach Gregor Townsend over tactics. That looked to have been put to bed despite a tactically poor World Cup from Scotland when Russell was far from his best and hopes were high based on his recent form for Racing92.

That it’s not a serious injury is a small mercy, but hopefully clarification will soon be forthcoming as to what this breach was, and how serious; Scotland camps can be leaky things.

One must assume it was serious to force such a serious handicap to the team 9 days out. But yet not serious enough to cost him his place in the whole tournament? Should this dismissal or departure prove to be a matter of ego on the part of either the player or a coach, it could do untold damage to that party’s reputation amongst fans.

It casts a further gloom over Scotland fans at a time when the form of key men like Russell and new skipper Stuart Hogg was perhaps giving us hope of a half-decent showing in the tournament.

It remains to be seen whether Townsend calls up a replacement standoff, with cover for Adam Hastings now limited to utility players like Blair Kinghorn or Rory Hutchinson.

Too Soon?

Update 24/1: For an update on the story now some facts have come out, I’d suggest you take a look at the Offside Line which seems to have both sides of the sorry tale.

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116 comments on “Finn Russell exits Scotland squad

  1. TeamCam on

    Well, we didn’t have as many injuries as we usually do so something like this was bound to happen. Given Hastings’s form, this isn’t as big a blow as it would have been two years ago.

    • maccy_d on

      True – its a great chance for Hastings.

      Dreading hearing what the cause of this was. Ill discipline (a night out?) or did he vent frustration with Townsend’s tactics?

      It feels like either Russell or Townsend arent gonna come out of this looking good. FFS.

      • Murray Hutchison on

        Money is on a tactics clash with Toonie.
        No longer sure about Toonie. Perhaps other players need to stand up and be counted.

    • FF on

      Hastings isn’t ready IMO, whatever potential he has (and I think he has a lot and is growing into it).

      So, either Hastings comes out if this looking like an absolute legend, or Scotland have a miserable 6N and the coach gets the old heave-ho.

      Hastings performing well enough will probably still lead to a wooden spoon showdown with Italy in Rome and I don’t believe Townshend can survive that.

  2. FF on

    BBC reporting it is ‘understood he left camp of his own accord’.

    Translation is he walked and SRU have to exclude him from Ireland but want to leave door open for him to return. If he walked, it is presumably an argument rather than a disciplinary failure that required sanction.

  3. Busy Little Bee on

    Last time we won in Dublin, Dan Parks’ quality kicking game and tactical nous got us over the line. My source tells me Townsend insisted Russell follow Dan’s blueprint and he’s refused, also the half time argument at Twickenham on the same subject resurfaced. Things were so much smoother when we had Dan’s steady hand in the driving seat at 10.

    I’ve been impressed with Hastings recently though, this is a massive chance for him and with the added pressure that he’s suddenly probably the goal kicker too. Makes Johnson as 12 more likely also.

    • Scotty on

      Definitely agree that the odds of Johnson starting have been slashed with this. I wouldn’t be at all worried about his place kicking which has been absolutely brilliant for Glasgow lately. Obviously Finn is in a league of his own with his book of tricks but Hastings has a better running game and very good vision too. I just hope that the occasion doesn’t get to him. I am sure that the Irish will target him a lot so he needs a lot of protection from the forwards and some decent service from Price/Horne.

      As others have said, it will be interesting to see if Weir or Horne Snr is called up as cover. Hopefully the former!

    • 1.8T on

      Hahahaha, it’s a while since I’ve seen any of your Dan Parks patter but that made me laugh.

      In all honesty though you’re right, Dan did win us the game that day, and a try from Johnnie Beattie unless I’m mistaken?

  4. WeeAl on

    Let’s just say this would not be atypical in France….(cough)…what has Finn been learning over there.
    This is very upsetting for the fans – I think they sometimes forget about us. Like many others I don’t know how many times I can continue to muster a psyche up for my national team. Just when we might not be the absolute underdogs, we do what Scotland always does, make sure we are. It’s pathetic. It’s pathological. Who ever is at fault here needs to sort this out. SRU need to show some leadership, and that means building TEAM spirit, camaraderie, the things that make rugby the great game it is. It’s so frustrating! Sometimes you just wish you were Welsh.

    • Nomad86 on

      Sometimes you just wish you were Welsh…

      Easy now wee man, at least wait until mish, ritchie n hogg all get injured v ireland before you start wishing for that

    • James on

      Oof! Somebody get that man a can of Irn Bru and a Tunnock’s and a quiet space to think about what he’s just written!

  5. FF on

    Big test for Hogg too, galvanising a squad that is likely to be shell-shocked. Particularly if the camp is unhappy.

  6. Tam tm on

    if it is a spat then the SRU and the coaching team will have no other choice really but to soon sort it out with Finn or someone within the squad will get around Finn to come back – surely!

  7. Dwest on

    It’s all part of the grand master plan, we get hammered by Ireland in the opener.

    England march north thinking the game is already won, put 30 points on us in the first half – Finn is parachuted onto the Murrayfield pitch at the start of the second half and its party like its 2019 all over again except we win this time.

    Movie rights anyone?

    For Finns Sake!

  8. Fraser on

    I will reserve judgement until more information comes out as to what exactly has caused this.

    If he has genuinely done something he shouldn’t have then it is right to drop him – no player is above the rules.

    I can’t see it just being down to a disagreement on tactics as has been suggested – an international stand off is perfectly entitled to his input on this and discussions can get quite lively – unless there is more to it.

    If it comes down to a management issue then equally coaches etc. are also not untouchable.

    Very disappointing to lose Russell for this game – hopefully he will be back (and if he isn’t, they need to say exactly why) – but Hastings is also on very good form so it isn’t nearly as bad as it would have been previously, and he needs to fully take the opportunity.

    As much as I have been behind Townsend, this could potentially be the last nail in his coffin – depending on what we learn….

    • Busy Little Bee on

      it reeks of an issue with Townsend or Dodson. For all his cheek it doesn’t seem Russell is the type to take the piss, go out drinking etc.

  9. Peter on

    This is not disciplining Russell, it’s disciplining the fans. Give him some other fine but for god’s sake let him play!!!
    This is typical SRU. Get a life all of you.

  10. Busy Little Bee on

    Worth noting that Hogg in an interview posted on the SRU’s youtube account TODAY name checked the following as the leadership group. Rambo, Brown, Ritchie, Russell.

    So the rumour that the leadership group clashed with Russell is interesting, did the man argue with/punch himself?

    My money is on Walter Mitty/Dodson related. Funny stuff whatever it is. Have way more faith in Hastings compared to 12 months ago and his goal kicking is better than Finn. Good luck to the boy. Does Hogg really have the brains and the skills to deal with crap like this in the camp? What a joke.

  11. MungofaeStrathbungo on

    Perhaps Finn has embraced the Gallic ways . . . a couple of pints and a fag outside a Perthshire pub isn’t impressive but is it worth this kind of sanction?

  12. Tam tm on

    the suspense kills you waiting to hear what has happened – like the old days wondering whether Matt Williams would ever let the forwards give quick ball!

  13. Sas on

    Well done Finn Russell, Townsend is well out of his depth he should never have been given the opportunity in the first place.
    I’ve said it before Townsend took over from Cotter, here we go back to the start. The SRU are so out of time still playing the old jobs for the boys system of rugby , I’d like to see every player walk out on GT , and no supporters turn up.

    • Johnny b on

      So you think an empty murrayfield would help?

      For large parts of the professional era we’ve endured Murrayfield 2/3 full.

      It helped…. nothing.

  14. RuggersB on

    This doesn’t sound good. Sounds like Russell has spat the dummy with GT to me.
    This 6N could go pear shaped fast.

    I dont think Russell believes in GT tactics at all…..and frankly neither do I. He is, I think, telling his squad he is persisting with his rugby methods/tactics/philosophy… despite the fact they clearly have not worked out.

    GTs failings in people management showing up before a whistle is even blown.

    I can see GT terminated.. during or immediately after this 6N.

    I dont see this as a SRU failing….they hired what most people believed was a very promising scottish coach…it hasnt worked out..he either isnt ready or isnt good enough..thats about the joust of it. The coach doesn’t need to be scottish…I think we have all learned that now.

    • BazEP on

      I think that even if we get all kinds of pumped in the 6N’s, they’ll still drag it out until after the summer tour. There’s no one ready to step in before then.

      Going to be a long year I fear.

    • WeeAl on

      I don’t really agree RuggrrsB. The coach is the coach, sure players can respectfully disagree, but ultimately it’s the coaches that call shots on tactics etc… Russell is a diva. Great player yes, but there’s no ‘I’ in team, as they say, and if he’s in the wrong, he should apologise and get behind Hoggy, Toony, and the team. Fans are just thinking ffs. This is the sort of thing that happens in football, not our magnificent game. What we want is our best team out there, if that isn’t good enough, because the strategy is wrong, then it’s for SRU to deal with GT in the summer.

  15. Johnny b on

    Doesn’t bode well.
    Suppose we’ll have to hear if there’s more about circumstances.

    Ffs you couldn’t make this stuff up.

  16. The Smoking Gun on

    Lads I don’t want to bring down the chat in this forum but I have heard from a fairly reliable source that someone shat in GTs shoe after a night out and Russell has been blamed for it. Have a look at Simon Zebos cryptic tweet. Surely this can’t be true? Has anyone else heard something on these lines?

    • RuggersB on

      Well.. its feasible thats what went down…considering the manner of the in-house reaction.

      GT ..Mr taurus the bull…wont play him again if thats what happened. He won’t let that one go…given how he has reacted to that kind of situation in the past.

      Another big loss to Ire and this’ll go pear shaped faster than most can name a fruit that rhymes with dare.

    • Alanyst on

      Umm…If I’m looking at the right tweet I’m guessing, at Racing, Zebo is “Chocolat noir” while Russell is “Chocolat blanc”. I don’t think this is about faecal matter.

      There is a recent trend of Scotland players deciding they have priorities other than international rugby (e.g. Richie Gray, Seymour, who surely had a 6N in him; arguably Laidlaw & Barcs too, although they were getting on)…In part healthy and in part detrimental.

      After this, Russell could perhaps go the way of Zebo, who of course turned his back on Ireland in part due to difficulties with Schmidt and/or his game plan…Zebo seems happy enough.

      We can only hope that a trickle doesn’t become a flood…

      • FF on

        Laidlaw, Barclay and Seymour clearly chose to go on their own terms rather than wait to be replaced by younger players. All were well past their peak and their positions in the squad actively under threat.

        Richie Gray is apparently available for selection again and returning to Glasgow.so where’s the crisis?

        I am worried that Russell thinks he’s bigger than the team now but he’s always seemed dedicated to Scotland and a committed professional in the past.

      • Alanyst on

        No crisis I agree. But it seems that more and more players are happy to walk away from international rugby – too hard, too boring, not well enough paid – this is also the case for other nations.

        The others jumped before they were pushed, but if someone like Russell were to “abdicate” it sets a new precedent, for Scotland at least.

      • Alanyst on

        I’d add that the risk is us getting to the point where top players (and clubs) see fulfilling national representative duties as a “favour” instead of a “responsibility”.

  17. Neil on

    Totally changes the starting 15.. Hastings needs more time on the ball compared to Russell and so bigger ball carriers in pack and the rapid service of Ali Price are required, i would keep Hastings on the full 80 and have kinghorn/Hutchison cover 10 should he get injured instead of calling up Weir. Also need an extra ballplayer in the backline as Hastings distribution is not close to Russells and so Hutchison comes in.

    1. Sutherland
    2. Brown
    3. Fagerson
    4. Gray
    5. Cummings
    6. Bradbury
    7. Ritchie
    8. Du Preez
    9. Price
    10. Hastings
    11. Kinghorn
    12. Scott
    13. Hutchison
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    16. Mcinally
    17. Dell
    18. Berghan
    19. Gilchrist
    20. Watson
    21. Horne
    22. Jones
    23. Graham

  18. CSC on

    Interesting, interesting. Whatever the reasons for any disciplinary action, there is likely to be some additional factor involved. Playing with Racing92, Finn probably has his own ideas as to how a successful rugby team should operate, and his rugby credibility is such that he can be selective as to how and who he plays for. This may be a storm in a teacup, and it is also a bit unfair on the other squad members who don’t quite have Finn’s star status, but if this 6N ends badly for Scottish rugby, it will be the SRU and the management team who will be seen to have been responsible.

  19. Fraser on

    Have to say the prevailing theory sounds feasible – Russell disagrees with Townsend game plan then the ‘senior players’ have a meeting and say he has to go along with Townsend plan (ie they wouldn’t back him in a mutiny) and he tells them all where to go.

    Sad state of affairs if it’s true – especially as he may well be right (doesn’t give him Carte Blanche to do what he wants though, the coach is the coach).

    Sounds like we aren’t going to see him back while Townsend is in charge.

    Of course, it could all be bobbins…

  20. JohnMc on

    What a weird turn of events.
    Has to be Hastings to start at 10 in Dublin then. Great chance for him to show how much he’s come on in the last 18 months or so. If Toonie picks a pack that can match or even better Ireland on the day, it could work out well for Hastings, the team and supporters.
    The loss of Russell is still a major blow. I hope not a fatal one on 1 Feb as we’ve got 14 others plus his replacement who are capable of winning the Test.

    • Busy Little Bee on

      That would tie in with the Townsend’s soiled shoe story above. Zebo’s tweet did hint at that too.

    • Fraser on

      Bloody hell, he better have done something more than have a couple of pints – if he wasn’t naked with his tie round his head then it’s a massive overreaction.

  21. MK on

    So allegedly players were allowed a few drinks, Finn went to far, told he was being dropped for Ireland as punishment but asked to stay and help the team prepare. Chose not too and went back to Paris? If that’s true, always 2 sides to every story, then I’m sorry but balls to him. Yes his dad might have been treated shabbily by the SRU, yes he might have had a disagreement with Townsend but your not playing for Dodson or Townsend your playing for and representing your country, he’s let his team mates and his country down. He’s our best player yes but what message would that send to younger players such as Bradbury and (apparently) Hunter-Hill how have been disciplined for breaches of protocol as well. And let’s be honest, again he’s our best player but apart from the two recent games against England he had been in the same losing team against Ireland, Wales etc. Rennie says that over time Hastings will be the more complete player than Russell. Let’s hope he shows l that promise over the next few months. Not that we have any other choice.

    • Busy Little Bee on

      What has Hunter-Hill allegedly done?

      Genuinely baffled that any pro sportsperson would Bevvy around training camps, so stupid.

      Hogg named Russell as being in the leadership group on a video posted today. Hilarious.

      • MK on

        Not 100% sure. Allegedly sent down to Saracens by Cockerill due to displine issues at Edinburgh. Nothing confirmed though.

      • FF on

        Chat is that Edinburgh will not have him back either. To be fair, he could get a lot of opportunities next year with Saracens with an exceptional coaching group!

  22. Bravedart on

    interesting times. Remember there is precedence here. When Hogg got too big for his boots At Glasgow Townsend dealt with him firmly. The team was bigger than Hogg and actually won the Pro12 without him. Maybe something similar is happening here. The optimist in me hope this is harsh but fair management. We’ll see

    • Big Al on

      Pretty sure he played in the Pro12 final the year they won. It was the year before that he got dropped and Glasgow lost the final.

      Starting team was Hogg, Seymour, Vernon, Horne, Van der Merwe, Russell, Pyrgos, Reid, Hall, De Klerk, Nakarawa, Gray, Harley, Wilson, Strauss.

  23. FF on

    Wow, new details on alcohol incident and I am deeply let down by Russell. Who knows if being dropped was appropriate punishment at this stage but to walk out is a very poor response.

    I hope Hogg and the senior players can reach him and persuade him otherwise as he will trash his reputation if he can’t get over himself, kids and make up. What a prat.

  24. Lochinverboy on

    Amateurish, egotistical and an embarrassment to his team mates and country. It was evident during the RWC Ireland game when Hogg and himself went off script, overplayed and any comeback was gone. To then be told you are not playing in the Ireland game and you spit out the dummy and storm off is just disgraceful. Hopefully he will have some close friends who will attempt to get his feet on the ground and make him realise that he is a team player, not a super paid Diva. The Scotland coaches cannot in any way be blamed for this. One can only imagine him doing this if Cotter were the coach. Ouch!!! A farcical situation.

  25. Tam tm on

    Right hold all the negative comments on Finn. For someone on top his game and the elite professional that he is to carry on drinking when he was told to stop then turn up late to training and decide to leave the squad says to me that Finn needs support. Somethings not right. And right now he needs his country behind him not making daft remarks.

  26. Mark Greer on

    FFS. It’s not like he was hammered and had to be rescued from the sea in a rowing boat by the coastguard. However, this has been building for a while on various fronts. I can’t help feeling if this was anyone else, the management would have been less irritated, handling the situation with softer hands. Conversely, a different player may have been a bit more circumspect in his actions. Another fine and avoidable mess of the SRU’s making.

  27. FF on

    Sky news article has a bit more detail.

    Sunday evening – Russell refused to stop drinking and left team hotel to travel to parents house in Stirling.
    Monday – misses training and told dropped from Ireland game in evening.
    Tuesday – told not to train with team.
    Wednesday – day off
    Thursday – asked to rejoin team and walks out.

    SRU hopeful he’ll play later part in tournament and negotiations ongoing, but likely to require some kind of apology.

    Think both parties need to kiss and make up as it is trashing both their reputations and must be completely destructive to team morale and concentration.

  28. Highlandrugby on

    Finns dad lost his job with the SRFU in what seems to be contentious issues. With the rugby press full of Dobson’s massive paycheck how would you feel if it was your father? I don’t think people should immediately condemn the man for his actions.

  29. Nessie on

    As the story develops it is not looking good for Finn. I am all for treating players as adults and even indulging the superstars to some extent but missing training and deciding to leave the camp in the cold light of day is not a good look. It would appear Toonie took appropriate action in dropping him for Ireland but letting him stay. To then walk out is very poor. I would give him the chance to reconsider and hopefully the senior players can get him to see sense (Lions tour etc). I would also like to understand why the need to ‘allegedly’ drink to excess on arrival. His Dad/Dodson salary insult is all mitigation but not an excuse for walking out but he does deserve a second chance. Feel sorry for coaches and all other players as all build up will be dominated by this saga. Typically Scottish!

    • Feepole on

      That about sums it up for me too. So much grief being fired the SRU’s way – obviously a softer target than The Mercurial One.

      Also agree with others suggesting we shouldn’t get torn into him just yet either. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a young man with so much hype and expectation around him.

      • Not rocket science on

        Garbage. Sounds like he was having a (non-against the rules) drink following a high-pressured game and home by 10pm. Then hung out to dry – punished, not contacted, even asked to rejoin and was refused. So decided to play for club. Complete lack of understanding and man management. Apology should be from be from GT etc. No way a victimised individual is softer target than the system. Easily avoidable if better management and system. 100pc with Finn here – just have to look at the track records of those involved.

    • Sas on

      It a what came first scenario the chicken or the egg? Townsend putting players health and safety at risk with his poor tactics or players deciding that its safer not to play under him ?

      • Delboy on

        Sorry, but on the info that we have I can’t see how we can blame the SRU or Toonie here. Finn had an obligation to his team mates (and in this context his country) and has acted pretty poorly.

  30. Johnny b on

    Jeez.
    Lots of greetin.
    Of course it’s not ideal. The team is low on confidence and has lost a talismanic player amidst controversy, but….

    1) No coach knows Russell better than or has played a more seminal role in the development of Russell than Townsend. He did the same thing to Hogg at Glasgow.
    Hogg is now his captain.

    2) Russell got hammered and no showed training. You’ve got to have some standards and if you let one player off you let them all off. I bet quite a few of Russell’s teammates aren’t happy with him.

    3) These things happen. Tuilagi’s been booted/ fined several x for going on the pish, assaulting police officers and jumping off ferries but he still plays for England. He’s a better player and a better human being than if the coach let all those things pass.

    4) Hastings is the same potential as Russell, he’s just younger and less experienced. This is his chance to make it really difficult for Russell to get back in the team.

    My thoughts for what they’re worth. Let’s see.

  31. Stripe on

    Let’s all just haud (good Scottish word, that) on a minute. None of us witnessed what transpired at the training camp, and it seems to me that the press are being fed (by the proverbial ‘source’, no doubt) the SRU’s version of events.

    Granted, there may be little or nothing more to the story than what has been reported, but I’m inclined to think that there’s more to this episode than we’ve thus far been informed.

    Whatever the truth, it’s hugely disappointing that our best player will be sitting in France when he should be strutting his stuff against Ireland.

  32. Sam Laycock on

    From the latest information, if accurate, it doesn’t sound like GT or any one else had much option but to drop him.

    However turning up and going straight on the lash, missing training and then walking out seems like bizarre behavior. Never heard of anything like this from Finn before it seemed like he was really maturing at Racing. Makes you wonder if he has some underlying issues. Hope he’s OK, obviously we all want to see him putting his best stuff on the pitch in a Scotland Jersey.

  33. James on

    So reading all the updates and the suggestion it’s about drinking and Finn going too far makes me think a few things:
    1) Finn’s damaged his brand by acting like a prat – I don’t care what’s gone on with the SRU and his dad, or between Townsend and him, he’s paid to do a job and he needs to behave appropriately. He should realise that most of us would give anything to play for Scotland, let alone have his talent – it’s a privilege and he should treat it as such.
    2) Yes there’s going to be pressure on him and that’s up to the coaches and the SRU to help him deal with it without imploding. That he has imploded suggests the SRU need to improve player support.
    3) The Welsh, I think it was in the run up to the 2011 or 2015 RWC had an honesty board where players noted when they’d had a drink and they were competing to see who could go the longest without. Sam Warburton, even though quite young, seemed to be able drive his team to think like athletes and behave as such. Where’s our leadership group when it comes to focusing the players? Plenty of time to celebrate and let off steam WHEN WE EFFING WIN SOMETHING. They’re meant to be professional sports people.
    4) We once again are proving to be the joke of world rugby, this time before a game’s even been played.
    5) Where’s our Fin Calder type enforcer to slap people into shape to stop them acting like fannies?

    At least the hope has been crushed early this year.

  34. Andy F on

    No one is likely to come out of this looking good I fear.

    Which is the problem – these guys have one objective, to win. How they “look” is secondary.

    We don’t know the facts so are speculating……we are speculating precisely because we don’t know the facts as the concerned parties want the right “look ” to emerge?

    In the pass we (Scotland) have been harsh on internal discipline, setting an example hoping others will follow. Other nations laugh and give their players bans that expire a few days before their next important game. Not daft that lot.

    Here we are again, after Japan, making a grab for the moral high ground and cutting our own throats in the process.

    If Russell’s personal indiscipline is at fault here, his team mates should bring him into line unless it has gone so far as professional help is required.

    If it’s a case of a disagreement with the coach – the coaches (any managers) job is to organise his best resources in a way to achieve the desired result. My way or the highway is a failure in leadership.

    If we have a disaster of a tournament Townsend might be safe in the knowledge that his authority has been asserted….but will count for little in the final analysis & will have failed as a coach in my view.

    • Delboy on

      Hardly ‘making a grab for the moral high ground’ if you have to discipline a player who has allegedly over-indulged, ignored a curfew, and then gone off in a huff.

  35. Connor McCleod on

    I’m sorry but I’m in disagreement with a lot of the posters here. I’m not excusing Finn, if he did (allegedly) get drunk when it was against the rules and then missed a training session. It wasn’t a great thing to do.
    But to drop him for the Ireland game seems a complete overreaction. It was 13 days before the match, not the night before. By all means fine him and make him give a grovelling apology to his team mates, but this is too much. There are other ways to punish him.
    I’m also not convinced about him missing training. He played in the Sunday and would most likely not have trained away.
    To all those saying he should have stayed with the team, he had to go back to Racing 92 as they have a game on Saturday!
    I really hope Adam Hashtings can step up and I think he has the making of being great player. But I can’t help being gutted because Finn’s not playing. I can only hope he’ll be back against England and will be raring to go.

    • Andyc on

      Absolutely this. Not excusing Finn But he has been hung out to dry here. It seems a mess. What a terrible start to a tough six nations

  36. Smoking Gun on

    one thing which is for sure – it’s a disaster for Scottish rugby in general. To have a player of Russells caliber, a player that only comes around once in 30 years, a player that could potentially go on to be considered a true legend of the game, a player who may now not play in Blue this six nations or if this kicks off – at all. Make no mistake about it – he is a truly special talent. It’s all just really, really sad. Huge Russell fan, and we would be wise not to throw him under the bus just yet as there is no doubt there is more to this than meets the eye. Still, it’s not looking a great reflection on him right now. The saddest part is the disappointment of thousands of wee kids, not understanding why their hero from the poster on their wall won’t be playing for Scotland next weekend.

    • Johnny b on

      Hastings is as good as Russell. He’s less experienced, less developed.

      I don’t see how Russell can get away with doing what he did?

      What would happen if you didn’t show for work because you were hammered and what would it say to other players if standards weren’t enforced?

      He’ll be back.

      • Smoking Gun on

        I have been a tad melodramatic in my post and didn’t put across that indeed I agree that he should be dropped for a game for what has been widely reported. The whole thing does stink though and concerned it’s more than an isolated incident. Is there something rotten at the centre of the Scottish camp?

      • Johnny b on

        Probably not. Just young lads horsing around and someone went too far.
        I hope Finn doesn’t have a problem.

        Hopefully not and it was just a mistake.

  37. Tam TM on

    what’s the chance that the SRU realise how daft all this has been and Finn goes to Spain after all and is picked for the Ireland game

  38. Andy F on

    Hopefully calmer heads will prevail.

    It just seems to me to have moved too quickly from incident (as reported) to dismissal/removal.

    It has to be an accumulation and they have picked a relatively minor incident to make it come to a head.

    Doubtless there will be ego involved and as a poster remarked on another forum – the picture on Toonie’s face in the 2nd half at Twickenham when they (allegedly) told him what they thought of his original game plan spoke volumes.

    Last time I saw that was when Hadden left out the on fire Evans brothers in the opening day loss to Wales. Under public pressure, included Thom against France who promptly scored. The coach on the bench couldn’t have looked less enthused (even for Hadden!)

  39. Alanyst on

    Storm in a teacup. You’ve just been dropped for the game 10 days away, but you have a club game this weekend and next that you’ll be able/expected to play if not playing for Scotland.

    Do you A) hang around in camp holding tackle bags or B) go and get ready for the games you CAN play in.

    Sounds to me like Finn just wants to play rugby, rather than hang around in camp for nothing

  40. Take the 3 on

    Ultimately we already had little to no chance of winning in Dublin, so Hastings getting a chance to grow might in the long run be a good thing. One thing is for sure is this really puts Townsends game plan under scrutiny, Much as Hastings has been playing really well he doesn’t have the ability to find spaces like Russell so I can only see a slower game, more kicking. Against the (at times) attritional dirge that ireland can serve up I’m not expecting a classic. Finn we await an apology, Hastings take your opportunity

    • DesT on

      I’d agree with this, ultimately the composition of the bench was going to be tricky. In some ways it’s easier to justify three backs to cover the backline now (whichever 9 doesn’t start, Hutchinson and Harris with cover for fullback coming from the starting winger) and have one more forward.

      It may we’ll be a blessing in disguise to help Adam get blooded (hopefully not literally) and then start Finn off the bench for the next game.

  41. Stu W on

    The prospect of losing a calibre player like Finn Russell is disappointing but if the reports are true, bearing in mind there’s always an amount of ambiguity with the Press then there’s a question of ill discipline and immaturity for the management and team to deal with. No one is bigger than the team and a rift in the cohesion of the squad is potentially damaging. A challenge for the coach and new captain, but look, we are dealing with relatively young people here and we don’t know what’s going on physically or mentally with this lad, we all make mistakes and we all deserve a chance to rectify. I hope for the good of the individual, Team and the sport bridges can be built and we all move forward.

  42. Johnny b on

    There’s a danger that Journalists, opposition coaches and supporters hone in on the relationship between Russell and Townsend and turn it into the story now.
    You only need to look at the Scotland football team to understand how distracting and destructive that kind of stuff is if you don’t do something about it. Players who feel free to criticise management, players who refuse to play or others who pick and choose their games has been normalised in that environment over the past 20 years with results which everyone can see.
    We’re some way off that fortunately and rugby is different from football in the sense that the international game is the pinnacle of the sport, but still…. we’ve had the suspect ommision of Richie Gray from the RWC and now this…
    The squad needs to galvanise and ideally Russell and Townsend settle this and he comes back in for the next game. Put this to bed…..

  43. Stu2 on

    Really disappointing Russell has turned into an @rsehole – he needs to understand, it’s not just about him – the country and team come before his petulance.

    Shocking lack of professionalism.

  44. Smoking Gun on

    Hogg fits perfectly to Mace Windu!

    On second thoughts – Russell seems more akin to Solo. A maverick renegade that can do the Twickenham interception at less than 12 parsecs.

  45. Smokingun241 on

    Hutchinson starting for Northampton this weekend. Likely means he’s not in the 23 next week or just not starting? Thoughts?

    • FF on

      Think release window is only 5 days before test, so possibly not significant.

      Can’t help feeling that with Hastings at 10 we’re less likely to have a totally new centre partnership. More likely Johnson and Jones than Scott and Hutchison.

      • Tryhard on

        Alex Craig, Chris Harris and Byron McGuigan are all playindg as well. I’d be surprised to see Hutchinson starting the first game now but mainly because of his lack of experience like you say. It will most likely be Johnson/Jones or maybe Scott or Harris if there’s a size concern.

        Kind of makes sense imo, although Hastings likes to take it in a lot himself so often works better with a distributor next to him. We’ll see.

        Sam Skinner is on the bench for Exeter this weekend which is good news. Could be useful later in the championship.

      • Scotty on

        Good to see Skinner back in the mix and even better to see Hogg not named! The SRU must have slipped them some cash or something as I am sure there is only the right for English players to be rested the week before in the GP?

        Also wonder if Alex Craig would be worth an outside bet for a bench spot? He has been going well in a decent Gloucester pack lately.

      • Not rocket science on

        Skinner has already played for (captaining) the Chieftains, so well on the road back. Just need GT to depart, Cockerill and Russell to come in and this Scotland team looking good.

  46. Lochinverboy on

    Are we real? Over 4 years ago, I talked to Billkit a Sarries man. On the Guardian blog. Russell was in my opinion even then our best ever flyhalf. My issue, ego. Now this. A magnificent player, but always on the wrong side. Hastings or Horne or Weir will do as well, they will get humped or whatever. Its not the fly half. Get our line speed,our defensive alignment right and it’s been catastrophic, and we will get there. Not a mercurial fly half. Finn or not Finn, he isnt the issue. His match winning second half of the Calcutta match says all. Winning in extra time in the England 22. They drew. That’s our problem. Big well fed forwards. No clue, not even a smidge of being streetwise. Unlike the Irish, the Welsh, the Boks. Thats our issue. Not a brilliant fly half. Redundant with nice big boys in front of him. Get angry, get aggressive? Now we are talking.

  47. 1.8T on

    What a bloody farce.

    I don’t know why but this is probably the least excited I have been for the start of a 6N, just seems a bit flat. Anyone else the same?

    • BorderBadger on

      Yup. Got to agree with that. Usually by this time I’m wound like a spring and trying to talk my expectations down from a top 2 finish or maybe even a tournament win!

      As others have said though, Nice change for these expectations to be dashed before the first game crushes my soul.

  48. Gavin Barr on

    Very interesting tweet by David Sole, and comments, on how to handle Mavericks in sport. Looks like GT got it a wee bit wrong. Priority now is to find out why Finn acted as he did, talk that through and get him back ASAP on friendly terms.

  49. Big Al on

    Time to let this farce blow over. Need to get fully behind Hastings for the Ireland game. In the meantime I suggest the SRU ask Laidlaw to go and have a serious chat and then broker a deal with Russell to get him back for the Calcutta Cup match. (He’s been MOTM in the last two England games) I fear there may be nasty scenes at Murrayfield if we get humped by Ireland and this isn’t resolved.

  50. The Samsquamtch on

    My two cents. Obviously it’s all very frustrating and has totally killed my anticipation of Saturday. I do however feel for Russell. I think it is pretty obvious there is more to this than the official party line. Depending which version you believe the extent of his transgression varies but whichever version you have to consider 1) why he would be behaving like that and 2) why sru/Toony would do such a terrible job of keeping it in proportion, a few bevvies does not a match ban equal when it is after a big match and 13 days before Ireland.

    It seems clear that there is beef between Russell and townsend, there is definitely beef between Russell and SRU and I am not sure that either townsend wanted him there or Russell wanted to be. Russell’s actions are not those of a man happy in the Scotland camp. That is likely about more than self indulgence and bad French habits.

    As an aside is anyone keeping a list of players Toony has seemingly fallen out with who had plenty to contribute at the time? Common denominator.

  51. Rosco on

    My take would be this (tell me if you disagree)

    1. Sutherland
    2. Brown
    3. Fagerson
    4. Gray
    5. Cummings
    6. Bradbury
    7. Ritchie
    8. Du Preez
    9. Price
    10. Hastings
    11. Kinghorn
    12. Scott
    13. Jones
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    16. Mcinally
    17. Dell
    18. Berghan
    19. Gilchrist
    20. Watson
    21. Horne
    22. Hutchison
    23. Graham

    Inevitably the big issue is I don’t see a natural ‘leader’ as such in the camp here, any thoughts?

    • Neil on

      Few changes but a good squad.

      I have not seen enough of Sutherland, Dell always at least is stable in the scrum and good in the loose for Scotland for past 2 years, that one is really a 50/50 though.

      I have not seen Du Preez play at all recently so would go for Watson at 7 Ritchie 6, Bradbury, Du Preez bench, like the idea of another big ball carrier though.

      Only other thing to switch potentially would be Horne for Price although i go back on forth on this alot .. I think George has been consistently good throughout the season and Prices form has alot of variance.

      Graham is injured so would put Harris on at 23 (Due to lack of quality options in back 3)

      As for leaders i am hoping Brown/Bradbury and Ritchie can really bring massive aggression and lead in that sense, Experience from Scott/Maitland/Hogg brings a somewhat decent balance and stability in the backline.

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