Gregor Townsend believes Scotland have shown they are contenders for titles

Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend (PA Wire)
15:34pm, Sat 27 Mar 2021
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Gregor Townsend believes Scotland have proven they can become serious contenders for titles after adding France to the list of away conquests.

Scotland have ended long waits for away wins over Wales, England and now France in their most recent Guinness Six Nations games on the road.

Friday’s 27-23 victory in Paris came against a home side looking to win the championship and after losing Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell to cards.

Finn Russell (PA Wire)

Another four points would have moved Scotland up to second and Townsend feels they are now in a position to threaten at the top end of the table in future years.

“I would think so,” he said. “We have challenged in every game we have played in the last two years.

“We have won six, we have had four games where we have been within seven points, so that’s in a position to win every game.

“Stuart spoke in the huddle after the game and again last night that this has to be more than just the start of the journey of what this team can achieve.

“We play this wonderful tournament every year and we have a World Cup in two years in the same stadium we played on Friday night.

“Performances like that will give them confidence, winning against England will give them confidence to take on any team we face, whether that’s teams in the Six Nations or South Africa, who we play in the World Cup, that we can win when we get our best performance out on the park.”

Scotland were denied several English-based players including Sean Maitland and looked down and out when Russell was sent off with 10 minutes left.

But they soon forced a penalty which evened up the teams and Duhan Van Der Merwe went over with the clock closing in on 85 minutes following some relentless pressure.

Gregor Townsend (PA Wire)

“I think the character they showed to come back from behind to win when we’re a man down, I know they got a yellow card, but to get that response when we had a red card, was superb,” Townsend said.

“And obviously just to win here in a stadium we have only won once before. It showed this team will keep trying and even though we have had two defeats this year in all our games we have shown that same spirit.

“It’s credit to the players they have the physical capabilities through their effort to keep going, but they have got the togetherness to adapt and overcome anything that comes our way.

“At half-time we talked about being here before where we have lost a key player to a yellow card, the same happened at Twickenham when Finn got yellow-carded.

“I felt we showed almost the same togetherness and control as we did at Twickenham. Now France did score during that period but up until then I saw a team together and managing their way through that 10-minute period.

“And obviously they managed their way through the red card really well. Those are really encouraging signs.

“It’s not going to be perfect, there will be times when other teams have the upper hand, but to see the team adapting and learning from previous games is something you want to see from a coaching perspective.”

Townsend, whose side lost by a point against Wales and ended up three behind Ireland, added: “We are delighted but disappointed that it’s not better than fourth place.

“The effort they put in here in the last game and the first game in particular, I feel deserves more than fourth place.”

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