A relieved Gregor Townsend thanked the English Premiership clubs for agreeing to release his Scottish players for Friday’s delayed Six Nations game against France, which will conclude the championship. As his team claim a record 52-10 victory over Italy, Townsend knows second in the table is still possible.
The Scottish coach was left in a sweat after tournament organizers announced last week that the clash in Paris would take place this Friday despite no deal in place that would allow him to select key men who play at the rugby from their club south of the border. But a deal has now been struck which means players like captain Stuart Hogg and Exeter teammate Jonny Gray can cope. Blues.
Scotland were due to go to the Stade de France last month but the match was postponed after a coronavirus epidemic in Fabien Galthié’s team. As the rearranged date falls outside the international window, English clubs were not required to make players available. But Townsend – speaking after his team got over the hiccups of conceding the game’s first try – revealed: “I’ve just been told that negotiations are drawing to a close. There will be a positive result which is nice to hear.
“Thanks to the parties involved – Scottish rugby, Six Nations and PRL – that we can get to this situation where we will have a strong team – as strong as possible – go to Paris, which is a really important game. for us and the tournament.
“Does it protect the integrity of the competition?” Yes, I believe so, but I also think it shows that we can work together and find a solution.
“I’m sure there were compromises and understanding on both sides. I am sure there were also financial contributions. But it’s great that we can have our players for this massive game next week.
The news is another boost for Scotland after recovering from back-to-back defeats against Wales and Ireland to crush Italy to record their biggest league win yet.
It was the visitors who started the brightest, scoring within six minutes as Luca Bigi rushed to score in the corner as Scotland’s maul defense crumbled. But that wouldn’t last as Italy’s own inability to withstand any roster training led Scotland to strike back in four minutes, with David Cherry in power.
Stuart Hogg’s conversion was wide, but he then teamed up with Sam Johnson and Hamish Watson to free Duhan van der Merwe into the offshore space and the big wing rolled away. Hogg converted and although Paolo Garbisi took a penalty, it was futile resistance.
Federico Mori saw yellow for a reckless shoulder kick to Johnson and Scotland quickly exploited their temporary advantage as Sean Maitland charged within sight of the line. Huw Jones was immediately attacked by Mattia Bellini before he could score. But there was no salvation for the Azzurri as Jones passed on the floor so Darcy Graham could run.
Italy looked stunned. Garbisi tried to ease the pressure on his side by pinning the Scots in their own 22 with a high kick – but the rate at which Townsend’s side moved the ball was just too fast for Franco Smith’s men to be able to. to face. Van der Merwe nibbled away some ground on the left before moving on to Hogg. His immediate offload to Jones took Italy by surprise, with Glasgow center charging the bonus point even before the half hour was reached.
The halftime whistle brought Italy a respite, but briefly, as Cherry scored her second with a carbon copy of the first, taking off the maul and diving for the close line.
Italy’s problems escalated again when Sebastian Negri was left in the trash for a deliberate knock-on, with Scott Steele – so impressive with his fast pace around the breakdown – this time capitalizing as he was following Johnson’s quick arrow to the line to crawl. for the sixth attempt.
By the time Negri was back, Monty Ioane passed him as he was yellow for a tackle on Hogg, and tries kept pouring in. Johnson got a well-deserved score with 15 minutes remaining as Scotland took a quick penalty. , while Van der Merwe then propelled for his second halfway.