Gregor Townsend Scotland fury at English league chiefs as player ruling questions 'overall integrity' of Six Nations

Furious Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has hit out at English league chiefs as he accused them of wrecking his Six Nations preparations.

Toony’s Dark Blues dominated the Auld Enemy again on Saturday as they celebrated a fourth straight Calcutta Cup win with a 30-21 triumph over England. But the Murrayfield boss was left frustrated that they had to shape up for the Red Rose clash without his stars based down south after Premiership Rugby bosses insisted on key men like Finn Russell returning to their English clubs during the Championship’s down week.

Townsend faces similar disruption over the next few days as he begins to turn attentions to his side’s March 9 clash with Italy in Rome – where a victory would set up a final-day title decider with Ireland. And the angry Scotland boss can’t get his head around why he’s having to send his main men back south when the English top flight is currently in a seven-week shutdown. He blasted: “We don’t have the best preparation. Going into the Calcutta Cup game, England had double the preparation because our English-based players aren’t allowed to train with us even though there are no Premiership games.

“And in this coming week, clubs are off for a week – but we’re still not allowed to have the likes of Finn Russell training with us this week. Two training sessions was all we had as a team going into the England game, where it would have been four if we’d had them in the week before.

“I’d imagine it’s going to be the same situation this time before Italy, which is a real disadvantage. I don’t think it’s right for the competition’s overall integrity.

“We have been [battling against this ruling], but we’ve had no success over the last two weeks to get our players. The clubs have indicated to us that they want their players training with us, because there are no training sessions for them.

“There is no game in the Premiership for seven or eight weeks but we still can’t have our co-captain who has been lighting up the Premiership even come into camp for two days’ training.

“It’s a credit to the players they went into the England game after two sessions as a whole squad and delivered that performance. It’s not right and I really wish this situation was better because it’s not fair for our players. It comes from PRL {Premiership Rugby], so you can ask PRL.”

Scotland bounced back from their controversial defeat to France to stun the English yet again. Victory in Rome would leave Scotland dreaming of a first championship title since 1999 but Toony is refusing to get carried away.

He said: “We’ll always have something to play for in Dublin, because there’s a Triple Crown that’s now available. But the focus is on Rome and on playing well. We know we’re going to be tested by a very good Italian team who almost beat England.

“They’re always hugely motivated for the Scotland game and they play a style of rugby in dry conditions which really tests defences. We have to be better than Saturday’s performance. We know that. That will be all our focus is on.”

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