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Russell must adhere to Scotland's standards to play again - Townsend
Reuters 600px 600px
  • 10 Feb 20
  • RugbyUnion
  • 4
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Pool A - Japan v Scotland - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - October 13, 2019  Scotland's Finn Russell runs through to score their first try  REUTERS/Kevin Coombs 691px 444px FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Pool A - Japan v Scotland - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - October 13, 2019 Scotland's Finn Russell runs through to score their first try REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

(Reuters) - Scotland's dropped flyhalf Finn Russell could return to the national side but he must learn to put the "best interests of the team" first and adhere to the high standards set by the squad, coach Gregor Townsend said on Monday.

Russell, one of the side's most creative players, was dropped from Scotland's tournament opener against Ireland for disciplinary reasons and then omitted for the Calcutta Cup clash against England.

The 27-year-old had suggested in an interview on Sunday that the prospect of returning to the national team under Townsend appeared bleak due to a strained relationship between the two, adding that he had clashed with the coach over the team environment. [nL8N2A90AS]

"We strive to create an environment for players to be at their absolute best when playing for Scotland," Townsend said in a statement https://www.scottishrugby.org/news/update-from-gregor-townsend. "To do that players must be aligned to the high standards of being involved in team sport at an elite level.

"It's really important they commit to an agreed standard of behaviour... These standards don't change for one player... What is important is that you commit to the what has been agreed and put the best interests of the team first.

"The door will be open to any player with the required level of ability... However, he (Russell) stated at the weekend that everything else has to change for him to come back, rather than accept and adhere to the standards currently being lived by the group."

Townsend said that the team leaders in the squad had decided there would be no drinking after the first match as they looked to improve their performances following a disappointing World Cup but that Russell was not willing to follow protocol.

"Finn left camp on the Sunday night because of a disagreement over alcohol with fellow players and chose to miss the following day's training and meetings," Townsend added.

"I arranged to meet with him that evening. It was a really positive meeting where we talked openly about life, rugby and what it means to play for Scotland.

"I left that meeting... really optimistic that Finn would play a major part in our environment and be a committed team member. Unfortunately, things have not unfolded as well as we would have hoped."

Scotland are fifth in the standings, above Italy who they face in the next round of matches on Feb. 22.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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