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Townsend: Scotland display answered questions over team culture

The national team head coach believes his team rose to the challenge after off-field headlines.

Townsend: Scotland display answered questions over team culture SNS Group
Performance: Gregor Townsend believes Scotland put in one of their best displays of the Six Nations in Dublin.

Gregor Townsend batted away questions over his Scotland team culture and said their performance in Dublin answered critics in the wake of an off-field incident during the Six Nations.

Scotland ended the campaign in fourth place with two wins and three defeats and were beaten 26-5 by Ireland in Dublin on the final day.

That fixture came just 24 hours after it emerged that six players had been spoken to by management for reportedly leaving the team base on the outskirts of Edinburgh to go on a night out in the capital after defeating Italy.

Captain Stuart Hogg, vice captain Ali Price and star fly half Finn Russell were all named as being among the group.

Asked to address those who would question the team culture after such an incident, Townsend said: “Your culture is a response to a challenge – that’s what we said to our players.

“If our culture was getting questioned then the best way to respond is going out and taking the game to the opposition.

“They did that to Ireland on Saturday and they did that in training during the week.

“I don’t think there has ever been any mention from us of disciplinary. It was a private matter that was dealt with.

“It was unfortunate that details of that got out but things like these happen in a high performing group, just like they happen in a family.

“You have things to deal with which, most of the time, don’t get discussed by people outside of the group.

“You either get stronger from it or you don’t, and if you don’t then you’re not going to reach your potential as an individual or as a team.”

Asked if Stuart Hogg would continue the lead the national team on the field, Townsend said: “Stuart is our captain, he led the team on Saturday, it is a long time until our next tournament but obviously he has captained the side for the last couple of years.

“We will have to reflect on everything but that’s not something we are thinking about just now.”

Reflecting on the season, which has seen Scotland defeat Australia, England, Japan and Italy but lose to South Africa, Wales, France and Ireland, the head coach said that the loss in Cardiff the week after winning the Calcutta Cup has been the biggest disappointment.

Townsend added: “France must be a top two team in the world right now, Ireland must be top three or four.

“Those are the teams we want to go up against and win so we are disappointed but we know we are not too far away – if we get things right and improve both as a playing group and as a coaching group.