Gregor Townsend to be ‘encouraged’ to join Lions, says Scottish Rugby chief


Gregor Townsend
Townsend turned down the chance to coach on the Lions tour in 2017

Scottish Rugby will “actively encourage” national head coach Gregor Townsend to join the Lions coaching team for 2021, says chief executive Mark Dodson.

Townsend has been mooted as a candidate for Warren Gatland’s backroom team for next summer’s tour of South Africa.

He turned down an invitation to be part of the Lions set-up in 2017.

“Gregor and I have discussed it and we’d be happy to let him go,” Dodson told the BBC Scotland Rugby Podcast.

“Last time it was just a really difficult time, having just taken over the Scotland team, it probably wasn’t appropriate.

“But we’ve had a conversation now that if Warren asks him to be part of the team then we wouldn’t stand in his way.”

Gatland had spoken of his desire to have Scottish representation on his coaching team to make the case for the inclusion of Scotland players.

Then Glasgow assistant Jason O’Halloran also rejected the chance to join the tour in 2017, and ultimately only two Scots made the initial squad.

Dodson does not feel past tensions between Scottish Rugby and the Lions would prevent Gatland extending another invitation to Townsend.

“Warren is a very practical man,” Dodson said. “I’m sure he won’t let the fact Gregor declined last time be a factor in his decision making.

“We haven’t had anything like the number of Lions we would like to have had over the last three or four tours. But I think this comes down to us.

“I only want the guys to be selected if they’re good enough and believe they are good enough. It will be interesting to see over the next 18 months or so how many of our guys put their hands up.”

BBC News