Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend has ended growing speculation regarding his future by signing a one-year contract extension with the club.
The 42-year-old former British Lion led the Warriors to the Guinness PRO12 title last year and their attractive and effective brand of attacking rugby has made the 82-times capped Scotland internationalist one of Europe’s most in-demand coaches.
Although his contract at Scotstoun was due to run out in June, Townsend has agreed an extension that will take him through to the end of the 2017 season, taking his spell in charge of the Warriors to five years.
Townsend said: “I’m very excited to be able to continue my role with the Warriors.
“Being offered the job in 2012 was a huge honour and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone at the club.
“The investment from Scottish Rugby, both in the team and facilities at Scotstoun, have played a vital role in our success and I firmly believe that there is a lot more to come from this group of players their work ethic and desire to improve has me very optimistic about the future.”
Scottish Rugby Chief executive Mark Dodson, who only last week signed Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons to a contract extension, admitted that there had been a necessity to tie down Townsend with interest from elsewhere.
“After Glasgow Warriors became the first Scottish team in the professional era to win a major trophy it was only natural Gregor’s talents would be of interest to other clubs,” said Dodson.
“We maintain a constant dialogue with our coaches and believe he remains the right person to take the Warriors forward and consolidate their recent success.
“He has created a consistent winning culture at Scotstoun and that is benefitting both the club and the players he works with.”
Townsend was something of a controversial choice originally as Warriors head coach when he moved from the Scotland national team coaching group to Scotstoun in place of Sean Lineen in 2012.
However he has been named Guinness PRO12 coach of the year twice in his three seasons, leading them third, second and first places in the standings in the last three years. Following a loss in Grand Final in 2013-14 to Leinster in Dublin, the Warriors won the title last year when they crushed Munster 31-13 in the final in Belfast.
Although he inherited a strong squad from Lineen, Townsend has unquestionably brought on an outstanding young group of players, helping the likes of Mark Bennett, Peter Horne, Finn Russell and Adam Ashe become international players.
His willingness to blood young players is indicated by the rise of Jonny Gray to be club captain at only 21, and this season two promising teenage forwards, Zander Fagerson and Scott Cummings, have been getting rave reviews.
But Townsend has also been given an extra edge to the Warriors by giving first professional contracts to the two Fijians, Leone Nakarawa and Niko Matawalu who left for Bath last summer – who have been a revelation for the club.
The Warriors even ended up supplying more players to the Rugby World Cup 21 in all than any other club, 17 to the Scotland squad alone.
Having played all over the world during his long playing career, Townsend would surely be tempted to try his hand in England or France at some point in the future, and there would have been considerable interest in his services had his contract been allowed to expire.