LONDON – Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was delighted after his contract and those of his coaching staff were extended on Tuesday but admitted there is significant room for improvement ahead of next year's World Cup in Japan.
The 45-year-old dashing former Scotland fly-half - who with assistants Matt Taylor and Mike Blair extended their contracts by another two years to 2021 - has built on the work done by his predecessor Vern Cotter, who restored some stability and improved results after a fallow period for the Scots.
Townsend, who cut his teeth as a coach at Glasgow Warriors and has tried to learn new tricks from other coaches such as Manchester City's Pep Guardiola, guided them to wins both home and away over Australia and to third in last season's Six Nations which included an impressive win over England.
Scotland have also averaged four tries a Test since he took over in the summer of 2017.
“I have always been incredibly proud to coach Scotland and I'm delighted and grateful to be able to extend my involvement with the national team,” Townsend said in a statement issued by the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU). “It's a privilege to coach such a hardworking group of quality players, which is continuing to grow in depth.
“There's certainly a lot of improvement to be found - both from us as coaches and also our playing performances - but we've also seen some excellent displays over the past season, as well as a genuine desire from the players to give their best for their country.”
BREAKING | Head Coach Gregor Townsend has extended his contract with the Scotland national team until 2021, together with extensions for his coaching staff of Matt Taylor and Mike Blair.— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) July 31, 2018
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Mark Dodson, Scottish Rugby chief executive, said it was important to guarantee long-term continuity so the momentum under the present coaching team could be maintained.
“I was convinced that Gregor was going to make an outstanding head coach for Scotland and we're delighted to have secured his services for the next three years, at a very exciting time for Scottish Rugby,” said Dodson. “It was also important to maintain the high level continuity created with the other world-class coaches within the national team set-up in Matt Taylor and Mike Blair and I'm very pleased they will continue to work alongside Gregor through to, and beyond, Rugby World Cup 2019.”
Townsend, who has 13 Test matches to fine-tune his squad before the World Cup gets underway, says exciting times lie ahead for the team and their fans as they eye at least equalling their best performance in a World Cup, reaching the 1991 semi-finals.
“We're well aware we're entering a crucial and exciting time for this group, as we continue to seek improvements across the board and target a strong Autumn Test series and Six Nations, before our build up to the Rugby World Cup begins in earnest,” said Townsend.
“It's an incredibly exciting time for the sport in Scotland.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)