Gregor Townsend signs new deal but admits Scotland must improve

Gregor Townsend celebrates with SRU chief Mark Dodson yesterday. Picture: SNS/SRU
Gregor Townsend celebrates with SRU chief Mark Dodson yesterday. Picture: SNS/SRU
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Gregor Townsend has stressed the need for “a lot of improvement” after being rewarded for a largely successful first 14 months as Scotland’s national rugby coach with a one-year contract extension. Townsend will now be at the helm until 2021, taking him halfway through the next World Cup cycle.

After winning nine of his 14 Tests since replacing Vern Cotter last June, Townsend and his coaching team have been handed new deals. Defence coach Matt Taylor, who had been linked with jobs including the vacant spot in Eddie Jones’s England set-up, has signed a three-year deal which will take his time with Scotland to a decade following his dual role with Glasgow Warriors.

Former Scotland scrum-half and captain Mike Blair will continue in his skills coach post until 2020, with new Welsh forwards coach Danny Wilson poised to replace Dan McFarland, who is set to become Ulster head coach, although the SRU is currently standing firm that the Englishman serves his contract until January.

Townsend said: “It’s a huge privilege to coach the national team. It’s great I can continue that. I really enjoyed last season. There is a lot of work to do in the future but I am delighted I am going to be involved for another couple of years.”

Under Townsend, Scotland have enjoyed two notable victories over Australia, in Sydney and at BT Murrayfield, Six Nations triumphs against England and France, and a 44-15 win in Argentina in their most recent game. Lows have included a hiding by Wales in this year’s Six Nations opener and tour losses in Fiji and the United States. Townsend added: “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.

“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.”

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson said: “I was convinced that Gregor was going to make an outstanding head coach for Scotland and we’re delighted to have secured his services for the next three years, at a very exciting time for Scottish Rugby.

“It was also important to maintain the high level continuity created with the other world-class coaches within the national team set-up in Matt Taylor and Mike Blair and I’m very pleased they will continue to work alongside Gregor through to, and beyond, Rugby World Cup 2019.”