SRU chief Mark Dodson gives update on Gregor Townsend contract talks

Scottish rugby chief Mark Dodson intends to hold contract talks with Gregor Townsend before Christmas.

Contract talks are planned with Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: Craig Williamson / SNS

The Scotland coach’s current deal expires next summer and the SRU is keen to extend the former stand-off’s tenure with the national side.

“I think we’ll be in a position to talk about that soon,” said Dodson, the SRU chief executive. “We’ve had so much on, so we just need to find the appropriate time to sit down and tidy these things up.

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“We went from Covid straight into the autumn [Tests], a new coaching team.

“We’re all grown ups. We’ve all said we know where we want to be, let’s come back and nail this before Christmas. Hopefully we’ll be in a position to give you an update on that in the next few weeks.”

Townsend left Glasgow Warriors to take over as Scotland’s head coach in May 2017, succeeding Vern Cotter. He extended his contract the following year, signing a three-year deal in July 2018.

He has taken charge of 39 Test matches, winning 22, losing 16 and drawing one. Scotland went on a five-game winning run this year, a streak which included Six Nations wins over France, Italy and Wales. It was the national side’s best run since 1996.

Townsend’s backroom staff were revamped after a disappointing World Cup in Japan last year where Scotland failed to progress from the group stage for only the second time in the competition’s history.

Dodson, meanwhile, has acknowledged the difficulties facing Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors as they struggle to cope with reduced budgets while playing Guinness Pro14 matches without their international players.

Both sides are at the wrong end of the table in their respective conferences and their difficulties stem from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and an autumn international window which has stretched to seven weekends rather than the usual three. With spectators absent from Scottish rugby since March, the SRU has had to try to make a saving of £14 million.

“This was always going to be a very difficult time for both our pro-teams,” said Dodson. “With an extended Autumn Test period and players being away so much longer, that’s been compounded by the bio-bubble and the non-release of players.

“We’ve found ourselves pretty pushed, and on top of that we’ve also had a few more injuries than normal. Whether that’s an effect of having two seasons back-to-back, being very quickly into high pressure games, I’m not sure. We’ll investigate that with our chief medical officer and doctors to find out exactly what that was.

“All that has put pressure on us, and in normal times we would be able to go out and recruit other players as we’ve gone along. What you’ve seen us do is recruit loan players, like Lewis Bean and Fotu Lokotui [for Glasgow Warriors].

“There has been no money to go out and buy full-time, long-term replacements for people or widen the squad. There has been pressure to save £14m and keep that squeeze on costs.”

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