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Townsend ready for France fixture but won’t be disadvantaged

The Scotland head coach says details have to be sorted out for a March 26 match.

Townsend ready for France fixture but won’t be disadvantaged SNS Group

Gregor Townsend says Scotland are preparing for three Six Nations matches in a row but has reiterated they’ll only agree to face France at the end of the month if his best players are made available.

The Scots look to get their championship back on track when they face Ireland at Murrayfield this weekend but still have to reschedule the France match after the opposition was unable to play following a coronavirus outbreak.

A tentative date of March 26 is being looked at, meaning Scotland would play a triple-header to end the campaign but there are complications. Townsend says he would need guarantees that English and French based players like Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell would be released by their clubs.

“We know there’s a date out there on March 26 that would suit everybody and would link very closely to the tournament so it finishes just a week after the other games,” Townsend said.

“But there are a few things that have to be sorted, notably getting all our players available and agreed to be released from clubs in England and France.

“I believe those discussions are ongoing but I’m not sure when those will be resolved. But I hope it will be soon.

“It’s not going to be my decision on this but for a tournament of the standing of the Guinness Six Nations we need the best players playing against the best players available.

“We certainly want a full group of players to select from and I’m sure that’s what everyone is working towards.”

The Scotland head coach dismissed any notion that France should forfeit the match if an arrangement can’t be made.

 “We were all aware of the rules going into the tournament and knew there wasn’t going to be a 28-0 win or even a draw. It was always going to be a postponement.

“You could follow all the rules and protocols and still end up with the virus in your camp.

“Our players are coming in from other teams every second week so I don’t think you could set something up (to issue forfeits) because it could be down to bad luck as well as any other circumstance.

“We want the game played and so do France. Let’s hope it gets played in the next three weeks.”

For now, Townsend and his players are concentrating on a good performance against Ireland and taking opportunities when they come.

“The players are focused,” said Townsend. “They know we’re likely to have three games in three weeks, so they are up for that and we’re certainly aware of what a big challenge this week is.

“In the last three games against Ireland we’ve created openings. In the autumn we were 9-3 up and playing really good rugby.

“But then they dominated for periods and put points on the board.

“We know it’s going to be a real physical contest and that Ireland will have some time in our 22. We just have to make sure they don’t come away with points on a regular basis and we must make sure we take our chances when we get them.”