Townsend extends Scottish Rugby contract to 2021

Gregor Townsend

Scottish Rugby announced that head coach Gregor Townsend has extended his contract with the Scotland national team until 2021, together with extensions for his coaching staff of Matt Taylor and Mike Blair.

Townsend has delivered a successful year for Scotland by building on the huge improvements made under former head coach Vern Cotter.

Under Townsend, Scotland have played 14, won nine and lost five test matches.

Scotland have averaged four tries a Test since Townsend took over in the summer of 2017, with home and away wins over Australia and a comfortable home victory over England among the notable highlights that helped Scotland finish third in the 2018 Six Nations.

Last week, Scottish Rugby said it achieved record turnover of £57.2 million over the 2017-18 season, an 11% increase on the previous season and “equating to a 63% rise in income growth since 2011.”

Despite one less Six Nations Championship game last season, ticketing income dropped only slightly to £12.3 million as a result of higher average game attendances.

Townsend told the Scottish Rugby website: “I have always been incredibly proud to coach Scotland and I’m delighted and grateful to be able to extend my involvement with the national team.

“It’s a privilege to coach such a hardworking group of quality players, which is continuing to grow in depth.

“It’s great that the immediate future of our coaching staff has also been secured, as Matt (Taylor) and Mike (Blair) contribute massively to what we do as a group.

“We are really looking forward to Danny (Wilson) joining up with us, which will enable us to seek further improvements in how we can bring the best out of our players.”

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said: “I’m delighted that Gregor has decided to continue as Scotland Head Coach until 2021.

“I was convinced that Gregor was going to make an outstanding Head Coach for Scotland and we’re delighted to have secured his services for the next three years, at a very exciting time for Scottish Rugby.

“It was also important to maintain the high level continuity created with the other world-class coaches within the national team set-up in Matt Taylor and Mike Blair and I’m very pleased they will continue to work alongside Gregor through to, and beyond, Rugby World Cup 2019.”

Thirteen Test matches now stand between Scotland and Rugby World Cup 2019, including three Autumn Tests and the 2019 Six Nations, before four Summer Tests against France and Georgia give players a final chance to play their way into the 31-man squad heading to Japan.

After such an encouraging start to his national team tenure, Townsend believes there is more to come.

Townsend added: “There’s certainly a lot of improvement to be found – both from us as coaches and also our playing performances – but we’ve also seen some excellent displays over the past season, as well as a genuine desire from the players to give their best for their country.

“I’ve been really pleased with the way the squad has come together whenever we’ve been in camp.

“The players have built strong relationships with each other, trained with intensity and learned quickly after any setbacks we have faced.

“They have also been terrific ambassadors for their country on tours or whenever they have interacted with our supporters.

“We’re well aware we’re entering a crucial and exciting time for this group, as we continue to seek improvements across the board and target a strong Autumn Test series and Six Nations, before our build up to the Rugby World Cup begins in earnest.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time for the sport in Scotland.”

The new deal will see assistant coach Matt Taylor become the longest-serving Scotland coach since Scottish Rugby Hall of Famers Jim Telfer and Ian McGeechan, with the three-year contract taking him to almost a decade of service to the Scotland national team.

The former Border Reivers and Scotland A back-row returned to Scotland in 2012 after helping Queensland Reds to the 2011 Super Rugby title, first taking up a joint role with the national team and Glasgow Warriors – and winning the PRO12 title in 2015 – before focussing solely on Scotland since 2017.

Taylor said: “It’s a great privilege to continue in my role as Assistant Coach, one in which I take great pride.

“It’s also great to be continuing my relationship and work with Gregor Townsend, who has really improved and strengthened the team in the last year and a half.

“It’s a role and a job that I’m really passionate about.

“Scottish Rugby has been really good to me and my family over the years and you want to back up and perform for an organisation of people who have looked after you …

“I think the tour just past exposed some really good young players, which is exciting for Scotland, and those individuals who are now pressing for selection for the coming Test matches.

“What’s exciting is that there’s plenty more to come for this Scotland team over this next year. We have a great opportunity to really push forward.”

Assistant coach (attack) Mike Blair – Scotland’s most capped scrum-half – joined the national team coaching set-up ahead of the 2017 summer tour and continues to operate in a dual capacity with Glasgow Warriors.

He has also extended his involvement with the national team for at least a further two years, committing to June 2020.

Blair said: “I am very proud to be able to continue to be part of the coaching group for the Scotland national team into what will be a very competitive and exciting couple of years.

“I enjoy the coaching dynamic with Gregor and Matt and I’m looking forward to working with Danny too.

“The playing group we have is hugely exciting and fully understands the positive, attacking game we want to, and can, play which makes coaching them a real pleasure.

“There is a lot of hard work ahead and I’m really looking forward to seeing what this group can achieve.”