Is This The TownsEND?

Last week, Scotland’s Rugby World Cup came to an abrupt end. The national teams trip came to a close after being outplayed by the hosts, Japan, in the decisive final game of the pool stages. As well as a loss to Ireland, this years World Cup has been a letdown for Gregor Townsend’s side. As Scotland rugby continue to disappoint on the big stage and leave fans empty handed by falling at the first hurdle, the question must be asked: Is Townsend right for the job?

Townsend took charge of the Scots in the summer of 2017 and since his start there has been no doubt of an improvement around the Scotland camp. Gregor Townsend has brought fast and attacking rugby into Scotland’s game which is something their fans have rarely seen before. However, since a successful first year and a huge win over England, the form under Townsend has plateaued. Unfortunately, this inconsistent form has come for the squad at the worst possible time.

Whilst almost every Scotland fan appreciates Townsend’s work and progress so far, there are a large majority of fans who have put pressure for a change in coaching after the loss to Japan. There are many mixed emotions over Townsend’s place in the Scotland set up. It has been so hard to determine whether he has done particularly good or bad. Since taking over the coaching duties, Townsend has taken charge of 22 games, winning 11, losing 10 and drawing 1. Although such numbers aren’t bad, there are improvements to be made. Many fans have expressed that Townsend has taken Scotland as far as he can – he has laid the foundations for improvement, it is now time for someone else to take over.

One thing Scotland fans can’t deny is the former Glasgow Warriors coach’s man-management. Townsend has turned inconsistent players into Scotland’s key men. World-class fly-half Finn Russell is like a different player. Adam Hastings, Ali Price, Sam Johnson, Scott Cummings and Darcy Graham are amongst just some of the players that have been given opportunities during his time – so far they have not disappointed.

There are arguments for both sides of this debate and one thing the Scottish Rugby Union do not want to do is oust their head coach too early. He has brought a distinct brand of rugby into the country’s play for the first time in years and has also made the side consistently play a brand of rugby that fans enjoy to watch. He has promoted youth from the start of his Scotland tenure and he also is not afraid to take a risk when needed. On the other hand, fans complain there isn’t enough priority on defensive work for Scotland – potentially the reason we were knocked out of the world cup. As well as that, fans fear that Scotland’s results have not been consistent.

The loss to an incredible Japan team in the final World Cup pool match was not all down to Townsend. Nevertheless, fans have been questioning the coach for a fair while now. Townsend will no doubt stay in charge until at least the coming Six Nations in which a decision will be made by the board to decide whether he will stay as Scotland coach. With a grey cloud over the Scotland squad after a bleak World Cup performance, the only way is surely up.

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