Finn Russell out of Scotland's first Six Nations game after alleged drinking session
Stand-off declined offer to remain and help rest of the squad
Scotland’s Six Nations campaign has been thrown into crisis ten days before a ball is kicked with the sensational news that star stand-off Finn Russell has left the squad and will play no part in the opening match in Ireland a week on Saturday.
It has been alleged that the 27-year-old Racing 92 playmaker was challenged over alcohol consumption after checking into the Scotland camp hotel at the Oriam training base in Edinburgh on Sunday, left and then did not show up to training on Monday.
A meeting on Monday evening was held with national head coach Gregor Townsend when Russell was informed that he would not be considered for the Ireland match, which would have been the former Glasgow man’s 50th cap for his country. An apparent invite to remain and help with preparations was declined and it is believed the player has returned to Paris. The Evening News received no response from Russell’s representatives on the matter.
The Scottish Rugby Union released a brief statement through its official Twitter feed yesterday afternoon, in which a Scotland team spokesperson said: “Stand-off Finn Russell will play no further part in preparations for Scotland’s Six Nations opener against Ireland, having been disciplined for a breach of team protocol during the week’s camp in Edinburgh. He has returned to his club.”
Russell’s talent, which has now attained world-class levels on the European stage, was cultivated by Townsend at Scotstoun and he was part of the team which won Glasgow a historic PRO12 title in 2015.
He left the Warriors at the end of the 2017-18 season in a big-money move to cash-rich Racing 92 and has flourished further in his new environment but there have been bumps recently. After the epic 38-38 Calcutta Cup-retaining draw at Twickenham last March, Russell said after the game that he had challenged Townsend’s tactics at half-time as Scotland sparked a miracle comeback from 31-7 down.
In May 2017, Russell’s father Keith was sacked from his role as director of domestic rugby at the SRU and the following summer won an unfair dismissal claim against the union, in which the judge’s ruling was scathing of chief executive Mark Dodson.
It is understood that the door is open for Russell to return and play a part in a tournament Scotland badly need to do well in following a disappointing 2019 – that Calcutta Cup epic apart.