Russell set for July return after Townsend talks

Finn Russell could return for Scotland’s July tour after holding talks with head coach Gregor Townsend.

Russell set for July return after Townsend talks

Finn Russell could return for Scotland’s July tour after holding talks with head coach Gregor Townsend.

Russell has missed the Scots’ first three Six Nations fixtures after a breach of team discipline.

But reports on BBC Scotland suggest Russell will call into Scotland’s coaches meeting ahead of the clash with France to share insights into his Racing 92 teammates.

The BBC report says: “Despite relations appearing strained, the player and coach have since spoken positively, and Russell is expected to be available for the July fixtures against world champions South Africa and New Zealand, where he could win his 50th cap.”

Townsend has added Edinburgh lock Lewis Carmichael to his squad in place of Worcester Warriors back-row Cornell du Preez, while wing Darcy Graham’s knee injury will keep him sidelined for the remaining championship games.

Elsewhere, London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney accepted his side’s winning run in the Gallagher Premiership deserved to come to an abrupt end as Wasps won 36-26 at the Madejski Stadium.

A run of three victories was their best effort since 2011 and they looked set for a fourth when they deservedly led 14-3 but Wasps stepped up their game to ultimately run out convincing winners.

Wasps’ tries came from Biyi Alo, Ben Harris, Marcus Watson, Dan Robson and Jacob Umaga with Jimmy Gopperth adding four conversions and a penalty.

The Exiles responded with tries from Ben Meehan, Ben Loader, Matt Rogerson and Motu Matu’u with Stephen Myler converting three.

Kidney said: “Wasps were good value for their win and they gave us a lesson at the breakdown.

“We weren’t ourselves and weren’t on the money as much as we have been in recent weeks.

“They showed us what areas of our game we need to work on, which we will address in due course.”

Bristol moved third in the Gallagher Premiership after beating Bath 19-13 and claiming a first league win at the Recreation Ground for 14 years.

Tries by flanker Chris Vui, wing Alapati Leiua and substitute scrum-half Harry Randall shaded a tight and tense west country derby in Bristol’s favour.

Fly-half Callum Sheedy kicked two conversions and, although Bath replacement Will Chudley touched down in the second period, it was a case of too little too late.

Rhys Priestland slotted two penalties and a conversion, yet it was Bristol’s day as they climbed to just a point behind second-placed Sale Sharks.

It was Bath’s first Premiership home defeat for a year, but Bristol’s fourth league win on the bounce underlined serious title play-off ambitions this season.

Meanwhile, in Rugby League, Catalans boss Steve McNamara hailed Israel Folau’s contribution after he helped the French team to a last-gasp 34-29 victory at Hull.

The 30-year-old Australian was the centre of attention in what was his first Super League appearance in England since signing a 12-month contract with Catalans.

He struggled to make an impact as Hull ran in 24 unanswered points either side of the break.

Catalans responded with three quickfire second-half tries to level the scores but the hosts thought Marc Sneyd won it with a drop-goal three minutes from time.

However, Folau produced a superb catch to regain possession from a short Catalans kick-off, which resulted in James Maloney crashing over for the match-winning score to the delight of boss McNamara.

“To come up with the short kick off and for Izzy to go up there and take it one-handed and it gives us a chance to win it, we are obviously happy with the end result,” McNamara said.

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