Scotland’s Russell to return after coach fallout

Rugby

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has said fly-half Finn Russell is available for selection again after the pair put their feud behind them.

Russell was dropped on the eve of January’s Six Nations opener in Ireland and sat out three subsequent matches after what Scottish Rugby called “a breach of team protocol.”

Townsend said on Thursday that the 27-year-old would be available for selection when Scotland next play.

“Players and coaches sometimes don’t have relationships that are the same all the way through,” he told video news conference.

“You have highs and low and periods where you don’t understand them and they don’t understand you, but the important thing is that we leave doors open and also make an effort to connect and build relationships.

“We want everyone available for us and are gutted when a player is injured or misses a chance to play. We want everybody engaged and available to play for Scotland because it’s a massive thing in their lives.”

In February, Russell said he had no relationship with Townsend despite eight years working with him, but later softened his stance.

Townsend said he had spoken to Russell repeatedly by telephone during the lockdown and hoped the relationship was better for all the drama.

Scotland will be unable to tour South Africa and New Zealand this summer after World Rugby cancelled postponed all July international Test matches on Friday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scotland lost to Ireland and England in their opening Six Nations encounters but rallied to win in Italy and then beat France without Russell before their final game of the 2020 tournament in Wales was postponed.

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