Russell mends broken fences with Townsend

Russell mends broken fences with Townsend
Scotland’s Finn Russell left the squad for breaching team protocol. But the fly-half looks prepared to make a return to the international fold now.

Scottish star Finn Russell has “no regrets at all” about his actions over missing the Six Nations but revealed he has spoken with head coach Gregor Townsend about a return.

The fly-half, 27, left the squad prior to the 19-12 defeat by Ireland for “breaching team protocol” during a drinking session.

But Russell now wants to put the short-lived international exile behind him and return to the Scottish fold.

“For me, I want to fix things,” he said in an interview with the RugbyPass website.

“We’ll work it out over the next few weeks and months. The plan is to catch up with Gregor, if that’s not in person because of the current situation then it’ll be by phone or Facetime or Skype, and try to progress things.

“We’ve spoken a lot about the summer tour, how we can work on things for then, and come back together for that.”

Russell believes the dispute, and the conversations since, will lead to a better relationship between him and Townsend.

“The way it all came out is the way it is,” he explained.

“I think now we have a better understanding of each other. We’ve spoken a few times during the Six Nations and I think he sort of understands where I’m coming from. 

"It’ll take a lot of discussions and catch-ups to fix things, but in the long run I think it’ll be good for the both of us as well. We can have a better relationship and we can work (together) going forward.”

Russell confirmed he made the first move in mending fences with the national coach.

“I called Gregor and just said `I don’t know if I was going to come back again (for France) but can we just leave it for now, start again after the Six Nations and move forward from there’. 

"There was a lot of talk around and I just thought it was better before the last two games to let the boys focus on those games without anyone going on about it. 

"We’ve talked a few times since then, and I gave them some advice about the French players ahead of that game, spoke about player traits, and a few things about what they do, what they do when they’re comfortable, and what they do when they’re on the back foot.”

Russell is in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic with France’s extended by at least another week, and he admits the aim of being involved in the summer tour to South Africa and New Zealand may be overtaken by events.

Meanwhile, Bath captain Charlie Ewels has slammed a claim the club’s players “revolted” over being asked to take a pay cut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, Bath became the latest Gallagher Premiership club to announce a 25%pay cut for players and staff.

Reports in Sunday’s edition of The Rugby Paper and the Sunday Express claimed that Bath’s players were considering rejecting the club’s request but England international Ewels insists that is not the case.

In an open letter to Bath fans, Ewels wrote: “You might have seen the front page of The Rugby Paper today and if you did, given what we are all experiencing at this time, it would be fair if you felt a sense of disbelief or even disgrace at the headline which reads ‘Bath stars revolt over pay cuts’. 

"As captain of our club, I can categorically say that these reports are not true, and as a playing group, we are not in revolt against our club. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, we wish to work with the club through this extremely challenging time so we can get back to where we all want to be, playing rugby at the Rec again.

“Everyone at Bath Rugby is committed to working through this together, and the players within the squad that I am fortunate enough to serve as captain are no different. 

"We play rugby for a living and we understand that if we are not playing games, then there is no money coming in.

“It is a difficult time for everyone at the club, however. We as players understand everything happening across the globe is having a huge impact, and that impact is reaching far beyond us.

"I can say that I 100% support the principle of the pay cuts, as do the majority of players at the club.”

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