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CLIVE WOODWARD: I hope Scotland overthrows Italy after Finn Russell Gregor Townsend’s unjustified attack

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: I hope Scotland wins a record high over Italy after Gregor Townsend’s false character murder of Finn Russell

  • If I were a Scotland coach, I wouldn’t choose Finn Russell until he apologized
  • The SRU must intervene and declare that Russell will no longer play for Scotland
  • Russell is a great talent, but is wildly inconsistent and regularly disappoints

I try not to be too partial in my columns because I like good rugby and admire playing top quality from all teams, but I hope that Scotland will record a thumping record on Italy on Saturday.

I became ill due to the wrongful and often incoherent character murder of Finn Russell by Gregor Townsend last week. It crossed a line and if I were Townsend I would make a simple statement: if Russell doesn’t apologize, he won’t play for Scotland while I’m a coach.

I wanted the SRU to be the first to intervene and stated that Russell would no longer play for Scotland, regardless of who is a coach.

A thunderous Scotland victory over Italy would be the perfect answer for Gregor Townsend

A thunderous Scotland victory over Italy would be the perfect answer for Gregor Townsend

Finn Russell's murder of Town Russell was unjustified and inconsistent

Finn Russell's murder of Town Russell was unjustified and inconsistent

Finn Russell’s murder of Town Russell was unjustified and inconsistent

Who does Russell think he is? He has a lot of talent as a fly-half, but is wildly inconsistent and has regularly failed to deliver controlled, 80-minute, winning performances. He disappoints as much as he excites.

Russell has to show a little humility. Scotland’s rugby team has been playing for 149 years and its role in that history is indeed very small.

I was confronted with a similar situation with Richard Cockerill after the 1999 World Cup, after which he wrote a book. I found the content largely nonsense, particularly the accusation that I was a bully. I asked him for a public apology. He refused, so I banished him from the team. I told him he would never play my watch for England again, and he didn’t. A very good whore, Cockers missed the World Cup in 2003 when he undoubtedly played well enough to make our team.

I didn’t like following such a hard line, but it had to happen.

At fly-half Russell is a great talent, but he is inconsistent and disappoints as much as he gets excited

At fly-half Russell is a great talent, but he is inconsistent and disappoints as much as he gets excited

At fly-half Russell is a great talent, but he is inconsistent and disappoints as much as he gets excited

There was no difference of opinion in the team and in fact I felt it strengthened my position, although that was not the reason why I did it.

But there’s more. In 2005 I was on the Leicester board and I had the last word about who we chose as head coach. It was a strong field, but I chose Richard Cockerill because I believed an adult Cockers was leading the way in a great young coach. And I was not wrong.

He called me a few days later, thanked me profusely, and said he assumed he would have no chance because of our history. I said, “Nonsense.” Everyone makes mistakes – the most important thing is to learn from them and get better. Cockers did that in his coaching career, with the power to add.

I was delighted to read last week that Cockers came out strong in support of Townsend over Russell, citing his own painful removal from the English team as a parallel.

Cockers understood that no coach can make a player behave like that. Since then we have exchanged a number of humorous texts.

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