01 Dec Townsend steps out of Lions reckoning
Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Gregor Townsend today confirmed his decision to turn down the opportunity to join the British & Irish Lions coaching staff for next year’s tour of New Zealand, in light of his commitment to his future role as Head Coach of the Scotland national team.
Townsend’s first international responsibility – when he takes on the Scotland role from Vern Cotter in June – is the national team’s summer tour to Australia, a tour which overlaps that of the touring Lions select.
“It’s a case of timing,” said the former stand-off and 1997 Lions tourist.
“I feel hugely privileged to be given the Scotland job and our first opportunity to work with the players is at the same time as the Lions tour.
“I was approached a couple of weeks ago – and I was obviously flattered – but my priority now is Glasgow and at, the end of the season, Scotland are going on tour, so that’s the priority then.
“I had a good think and didn’t give an immediate answer. I really wanted to reflect on what was involved but I quickly realised that the Scotland tour to Australia is my number one priority at the end of this season.
“At international level you don’t get that much access with the players. This is the most access you’ll get with them. On a tour you get to work with them, preparing them and spending time with them, so that’s the biggest factor.”
Despite his anticipation of the Scotland tour and this chance to work with the players, Townsend conceded that he hopes there are a few notable absentees.
“We had three Glasgow players on the last Lions tour, to get a similar number or more would be fantastic for us and Scottish rugby,” he said.
“I want as many Scotland players as possible to be on tour with the Lions. It would be a brilliant experience, to learn from different coaches, to learn from different players and to take on the best team in world rugby.”