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Russell out of Irish clash in booze row



Stood down: Finn Russell fell foul of Scotland chiefs

Stood down: Finn Russell fell foul of Scotland chiefs

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Stood down: Finn Russell fell foul of Scotland chiefs

Scotland's preparations for their opening Six Nations clash with Ireland have been thrown into disarray after Finn Russell was sent home from their warm-up camp for disciplinary reasons.

The Racing 92 star had been expected to start at out-half for Gregor Townsend's side at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday, but now Glasgow Warriors' 23-year-old No 10 Adam Hastings is in line to take his place.

According to BBC Scotland, the Scottish squad were given permission by management to have a few drinks on Sunday night when they got together after the final round of Champions Cup fixtures and Russell is reported to have ignored warnings from management and players to stop.

He missed training on Monday and was told by Townsend he would not be selected to play against Ireland.

The head coach invited Russell to join the squad on Thursday, but he elected to return to Paris and his participation in the Six Nations as a whole is now in doubt.

A Scottish Rugby statement said: “Stand-off Finn Russell will play no further part in preparations for Scotland’s Six Nations opener against Ireland, having been disciplined for a breach of team protocol during the week’s camp in Edinburgh. He has returned to his club.”

For Ireland coach Andy Farrell, however, it is a major boost ahead of the first game of his time in charge.

In contrast to Townsend, the new Ireland coach’s sole injury concern is Jordan Larmour who remains a doubt with his injured foot.

During talks described as “positive” by a Murrayfield source, Townsend did leave it open to the 49-cap stand-off to decide whether he wanted to stay in Edinburgh and help his team-mates get ready to face Farrell’s Irish outfit.

But Russell has opted to return to Paris and will not be among the travelling party who fly out for a warm-weather camp in Spain this Sunday.

The Scots host England in their second Six Nations fixture on February 8, looking to retain the Calcutta Cup for a third successive year, and the Scotland coach has not closed the door on the former Glasgow star returning for that showdown with the Auld Enemy.

But as things stand it remains to be seen if Townsend’s relationship with his talisman can be repaired.

The pair were famously embroiled in an angry half-time row at Twickenham last year as Russell protested against the tactics which had allowed England to race 31-0 ahead.

It was Russell who inspired the dramatic fightback which secured a thrilling 38-38 draw as he threw their original game plan out the window and went for broke. 

The news will come as a major blow to Scotland fans as they look for improvement following a disappointing World Cup campaign, which started with a 27-3 defeat by Ireland and ended in elimination before the knockout stages.

The in-form Adam Hastings is now almost certain to wear the No.10 jersey in Dublin but Townsend may look for reinforcements with no other regular stand-offs in his squad, although full-back Stuart Hogg played there earlier in his career and Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson can also play in the position.

Glasgow’s Pete Horne, who won his 46th cap in the Japan World Cup, was a notable omission from the original squad, while Duncan Weir is playing regularly for Worcester Warriors in the Premiership, having not represented his country since 2017.

Belfast Telegraph