EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland expect to have a full-strength side for next Friday’s clash in France at the conclusion of the Six Nations after reaching an agreement with clubs for the release of their English-based players, said coach Gregor Townsend.
The re-arranged game at the Stade de France, following a COVID-19 outbreak in the French camp last month, falls outside World Rugby’s designated international window and Scotland have been forced to negotiate the release of their players.
They had no clear idea on availability before Saturday’s 52-10 win over Italy at Murrayfield in their penultimate outing in this year’s championship but got more clarity straight after the final whistle.
“I’ve just been told the negotiations are coming to an end and there is going to be a positive outcome,” Townsend told reporters after Saturday’s victory.
“It’s great to hear and thanks to the parties involved – Scottish rugby, the Six Nations and PRL (Premiership Rugby in England) that we can get to this situation where we can have as strong a squad as possible head to Paris for what is a really important game for us and the tournament.”
Townsend said having his full-strength squad available protected the integrity of the tournament.
“But it also shows they can work together and find a solution. I’m sure there were compromises and understanding from both parties. I’m sure there will have been some financial contributions as well but it’s great we can have our players ready for this massive game next week.”
Scotland have won two and lost two of their first four tests in this Six Nations campaign, while France were playing Wales later on Saturday in their penultimate fixture with both of those teams still in the hunt to win the championship.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris)