Scotland are bonny as Gregor Townsend gets extended contract through till 2021

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Gregor Townsend is all smiles in Scotland

Gregor Townsend has been handed a major vote of confidence following his first 14 months as Scotland head coach after being handed an extended contract.

Townsend took over in June last year with his remit to lead Scotland into the Rugby World Cup in the autumn of 2019, but he has now signed a new deal until 2021.

The former Glasgow Warriors head coach has won nine of his 14 matches in charge since building on Vern Cotter’s spell at the helm and finished third in his debut Six Nations campaign.

Townsend said in an interview with the Scottish Rugby Union: “It’s a huge privilege to coach the national team. It’s great I can continue that. I really enjoyed last season.

“There is a lot of work to do in the future but I am delighted I am going to be involved for another couple of years.”

Scotland are still seeking improved consistency but there have been some major results under Townsend, including two victories over Australia, Six Nations triumphs against England and France, and a 44-15 win in Argentina in their most recent game.

“It is a rollercoaster,” Townsend said. “There’s been some great highs. Being out here at the end of the game against England this year was fantastic – the atmosphere in the ground, the joy on the supporters’ faces, the players’ as well, the effort they put in, the satisfaction they got from winning.

“But also seeing the team perform well away from home in Australia in the first big game that we were in charge of, and most recently in Argentina, a terrific performance to win against a very good side.”

Two of Townsend’s assistants, Matt Taylor and Mike Blair, have also signed extended deals while Danny Wilson is set to join the coaching staff ahead of Dan McFarland’s move to Ulster, which is scheduled for January.

Townsend added: “There’s certainly a lot of improvement to be found – both from us as coaches and also our playing performances – but we’ve also seen some excellent displays over the past season, as well as a genuine desire from the players to give their best for their country.

“I’ve been really pleased with the way the squad has come together whenever we’ve been in camp. The players have built strong relationships with each other, trained with intensity and learned quickly after any setbacks we have faced.

“They have also been terrific ambassadors for their country on tours or whenever they have interacted with our supporters.”

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson hailed the development.

“I was convinced that Gregor was going to make an outstanding head coach for Scotland and we’re delighted to have secured his services for the next three years, at a very exciting time for Scottish Rugby,” Dodson said.

“It was also important to maintain the high level continuity created with the other world-class coaches within the national team set-up in Matt Taylor and Mike Blair and I’m very pleased they will continue to work alongside Gregor through to, and beyond, Rugby World Cup 2019.”

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RFU warns England coach Eddie Jones they expect a successful Autumn campaign

Duncan Bech 30/07/2018
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England coach Eddie Jones is feeling the pressure

Eddie Jones has been warned by the Rugby Football Union that England are expected to reverse their recent slump by delivering a successful autumn campaign.

The team’s five-Test losing run came to an end with a 25-10 victory in Cape Town on June 23 – but the series against South Africa had already been conceded three months after falling to an alarming fifth-place finish in the Six Nations.

Jones retains Twickenham’s backing but must produce a strong November series against the Springboks, New Zealand, Japan and Australia to ease speculation over his future.

“We plan to win every game we play. We expect success in the autumn,” RFU chief executive Steve Brown said.

“I don’t want to predict failure, I’d rather predict success, but that’s not in blind faith. They’re all big matches.

“We’re planning to come out of the other side successful.”

Brown and Jones reviewed England’s tour to South Africa upon the head coach’s return to these shores before discussing the punishing autumn schedule which looms on the horizon.

Jones’ early success when replacing Stuart Lancaster continues to hold weight at Twickenham – but it has been made clear that this year’s decline is unacceptable.

“I’ve reflected over the time Eddie has been at his post and his win rate (80 per cent). The win rate is still very high – it’s significant and it’s hard to argue against it,” Brown said.

“It’s important that we don’t just make a judgement on what’s happened in the very short term. Nevertheless, it was a pretty poor run of results.

“We showed great character for the result in Cape Town but the series result was disappointing, there’s no question about it.

“So was the Six Nations. Coming fifth in the Six Nations was a pretty difficult situation.

“The last result in South Africa was important, but not critical to any decisions we make about the future.

“The confidence comes from the history to date and talking to Eddie about the plans for the autumn and the (Rugby) World Cup and how to get back to that win rate.

“I’ve discussed this with Eddie and I’m confident those disappointing results are behind us and can be turned around.”

Brown is overseeing a redundancy process at the RFU that is expected to be completed by the end of August with 62 people set to lose their jobs, saving the union £2-3million per annum.

“Lots has been said about what is going on at the union, but the first thing to say is that we are not in crisis and the second is that the financial position of the RFU is very sound,” Brown said.

“We’ve not seen a drop in income as yet, but the people who support us, invest in us and spend money here are suffering out there.

“Every business has been affected and we’re predicting that the growth we’ve seen over the last five or six years will not continue.

“It will flatten out and maybe even decline slightly.

“So we’ve had to make some very difficult decisions and reduce the number of people who work here.”

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Three men fined over abuse of England rugby coach Eddie Jones

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Eddie Jones' abusers have been fined

Three men have been fined after they hurled foul-mouthed abuse at England head coach Eddie Jones following Scotland’s Calcutta Cup triumph in February.

Footage released online (see below) showed a group approaching the 58-year-old for a photograph as he left a Manchester railway station to get into a waiting car before the atmosphere turned sour, with expletives hurled at Jones.

Three men from Edinburgh all pleaded guilty to a public order offence of using threatening abusive words and behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Fines ranged from £105 ($142) to £140 and all three were ordered to pay court costs of £115 each.

Sentencing the trio at Manchester magistrates’ court, chairman of the bench Joe Bangudu said: “This was a short-lived but disgraceful incident. Your language, although described by your defence as industrial, we think was vile and therefore unacceptable directed to anybody.”

Carl Miles, prosecuting, said Jones was travelling on the train a day after his team’s loss in the Six Nations fixture. On the journey were a number of rugby fans including the defendants, who had not been to the game at Murrayfield, which took place on February 24.

Footage of the incident circulated on social media and the defendants voluntarily attended police stations following a media appeal for information.

A fourth defendant pleaded not guilty to the same offence and will go on trial on August 10.

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