Scottish Rugby have secured new deals with head coach Gregor Townsend and his entire backup coaching team until 2021, setting a stable foundation beyond the World Cup in Japan next year.
Townsend has extended his deal beyond the finals tournament after a successful first year in charge of the national team. The Scots on his charge won nine of fourteen tests, including home and away wins over Australia, a first Calcutta Cup win in ten years and three wins in the Six Nations for the second year in succession.
Scotland have also averaged a touch under four tries a test with Townsend at the helm, second only to New Zealand among Tier One nations over the last year.
“I have always been incredibly proud to coach Scotland and I’m delighted and grateful to be able to extend my involvement with the national team,” he said.
It’s a privilege to coach such a hardworking group of quality players, which is continuing to grow in depth.”
Significantly deals have also been confirmed to secure assistant coach Matt Taylor and skills coach Mike Blair moving forward. Taylor, a defensive specialist, had been interesting Englaand and other Tier One nations, when his contract expired at the end of the World Cup.
Instead the only new man will be ex-Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson, who is joining up with responsibility for the forwards in the autumn, replacing Dan McFarland, who is moving to be head coach at Ulster.
“It’s great that the immediate future of our coaching staff has also been secured, as Matt and Mike contribute massively to what we do as a group,” said Townsend.
“We are really looking forward to Danny joining up with us, which will enable us to seek further improvements in how we can bring the best out of our players.”
Scottish Rugby Chief Executive, Mark Dodson said: “I’m delighted that Gregor has decided to continue as Scotland Head Coach until 2021.
“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.
“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.”
The Scots have 13 further tests between now and the World Cup, starting with an autumn series against Wales, Fiji, South Africa and Argentina before the 2019 Six Nations.
They will play four home and away tests against France and Georgia next summer before the 31-strong squad for Japan is selected.
“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.”
“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.
“We’re well aware we’re entering a crucial and exciting time for this group, as we continue to seek improvements across the board and target a strong Autumn Test series and Six Nations, before our build up to the Rugby World Cup begins in earnest.”
Taylor’s new three-year deal will take him to a decade with the Scotland team set-up. The Australian-born former Scotland A cap joined Scotland in 2012 under Andy Robinson and has stayed since then, primarily in a joint role with Glasgow Warriors until Townsend took over when he moved to Murrayfield full-time.
“It’s a great privilege to continue in my role as Assistant Coach, and it’s also great to be continuing my relationship and work with Gregor, who has really improved and strengthened the team in the last year and a half,” he said.
“I think the tour this summer exposed some really good young players, which is exciting for Scotland, and those individuals who are now pressing for selection for the coming Test matches.
“What’s exciting is that there’s plenty more to come for this Scotland team over this next year. We have a great opportunity to really push forward.”
Blair, a former Scotland captain and most capped scrum-half, will continue to operate in the dual capacity with Glasgow Warriors as attack and skills coach. His new deal will take him through to the summer of 2020.