Gregor Townsend rues ‘missed opportunities’, outlines summer tour criteria and reveals Scotland captaincy plan

Attention turns to summer tour of Americas after another mixed Six Nations campaign

Gregor Townsend said “missed opportunities” cost Scotland during a Six Nations campaign in which his side took their title challenge to the last weekend but ended up in fourth place.

The head coach will now look to strengthen the depth of his squad by giving opportunities to some youngsters and fringe players on this summer’s tour of the Americas.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Townsend was proud of the way Scotland played in their final Six Nations match against Ireland in Dublin where a 17-13 win for the home side secured the Irish the title for the second year in a row.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend will take his team on a four-match summer tour to North and South America.  (Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire)Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend will take his team on a four-match summer tour to North and South America.  (Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend will take his team on a four-match summer tour to North and South America. (Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

The result meant Scotland lost three matches in the championship, all by a single score, and it was the defeats against France and Italy which were most damaging. Against France, a TMO decision cost them dearly but the performance in Rome was particularly disappointing as the Scots squandered a 22-10 lead.

“The two games that were the biggest missed opportunities were France – and we still believe that was a try we scored at the end of the game – and Italy, which was an underperformance in the third quarter,” said Townsend.

“On Saturday we were still playing for something, unlikely to play for the title although it was mathematically possible, but we put everything in to win that game. We were still chasing a win at the end. A lot of teams have come here and not got close to Ireland so I’m proud of the way we finished the championship, but when you have three close defeats, you’ll feel it’s one that got away.”

Finn Russell, the co-captain, called on Scotland to be mentally stronger, echoing a sentiment voiced by vice-captain Grant Gilchrist last week. Townsend agreed it was something that needed worked on but noted how his team came from 0-10 down to beat England in round three and held their nerve to hold on against Wales on the opening weekend after seeing a 27-0 lead whittled down to 27-26.

Scotland will not be in action again until July 6 when they will face Canada in Ottawa in the opening match of a four-match tour which will also see them play the USA, Chile and Uruguay. All the games will be full Test matches but Townsend has indicated that he will give opportunities to players currently on the periphery, including some who were part of the Six Nations squad but never had any game-time and even those with little pro rugby experience.

The likes of Sale wing Arron Reed, Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson, Edinburgh trio Harry Paterson, Ben Healy and Glen Young and Glasgow’s Ally Miller could all come into contention and there may also be opportunities for players who missed the Six Nations through injury, such as Darcy Graham and Adam Hastings, depending on their return to fitness.

“I think we have developed good depth but this gives us an opportunity to do it more,” said Townsend. “Tours do give you opportunities to look at people who have been off the bench in this campaign, or who haven’t played at all, or who haven’t played that much at pro level.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I think the tour gives us a chance to grow our leadership depth too. I don’t think it will be one person who is captain for the four Tests. I can’t see anyone playing four Tests in a row so we’ll aim to get two or three Tests for the players on tour so there will be opportunities for people to be captain on tour. We’ll see.”



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.