Townsend “can’t wait” for Scotland’s autumn clashes

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is itching to get going ahead of international rugby’s return as his side prepare for a busy autumn schedule.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is itching to get going ahead of international rugby’s return as his side prepare for a busy autumn schedule.

Townsend’s men conclude their Guinness Six Nations campaign against Wales at Parc y Scarlets on October 31 before taking on Italy, France and Fiji in the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup.

“I can’t wait,” Townsend told the Scottish Rugby official website.

“From a coaching point of view, we just want to get back working with our players. From a sports fan perspective, it will be great to see international rugby back. We have a tournament to finish then a new tournament to play in, so we are looking forward to both of them.”

Scotland sit third in the Guinness Six Nations ahead of the restart with two wins from four matches and retain a slender chance of lifting the trophy; they must beat Wales and hope other results fall in their favour.

This trip to Wales will be different to that which Scotland have become accustomed to in the Championship, both in terms of the location and atmosphere, but Townsend has challenged his side to adapt and respond to the new normal.

“Our memories of being in Wales last time were being on the team bus on the way to the stadium for a team run-through the day before the game when we unfortunately got the call that it was postponed,” he said.

“It was the right call but we were very disappointed because we had built up momentum during the tournament, had a really good week of training and the players couldn’t wait to get in that stadium and play for their country.

“We have to recreate that same atmosphere and environment as it in an important game. It won’t be in front of 75,000 supporters like it normally is against Wales but we have to adapt to the circumstances in front of us and play against a very good and proud side.

“We want to finish the Guinness Six Nations with the best performance we can give and see where that leaves us in the table.”

A good performance in Llanelli would set Townsend’s side up nicely for the Autumn Nations Cup. Having recorded Championship victories over Italy and France already this year, Scotland will look to repeat the feat with silverware at stake.

“We are all looking forward to it because it’s a tournament,” Townsend said.

“November Tests are always really enjoyable. We play in our home venue against some excellent teams and you learn a lot during that period. But with this Autumn Nations Cup you are playing for a trophy and each game has something at stake.

“We have some tough opponents and some variety of opponents who will test us. Italy, with their ability to move the ball and ambition, will be a challenge away from home.

“France have combined a really strong defence and kicking game with their natural flair. They are a quality side.

“Fiji’s natural strength is moving the ball around and they have some of the best attacking players in world rugby.

“They are three really good challenges for us. Two of them are at BT Murrayfield, which will be great. We have a lot to build on from the Six Nations but also bits to improve on. We will have to adapt to meet and overcome the challenges ahead.”