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Finn Russell has broken his silence about difficult Six Nations

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

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Finn Russell has given his take on his difficult Guinness Six Nations campaign which culminated in him getting dropped to the Scotland bench for their round five game away to Ireland last month. The form of the out-half came in for much scrutiny over the course of the tournament that began with a Scotland win over England that ignited chat about them potentially winning the Grand Slam.

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Those hopes were quickly extinguished by a round two defeat to Wales and their campaign limped from there to a disappointing finish in which their loss in Ireland was accompanied by the messy story that six Scotland players – including Russell and skipper Stuart Hogg – had been disciplined for an alleged breach of team protocol the previous weekend.  

Russell has since returned to France to continue his season with Racing 92 and ahead of their second leg round of 16 derby with Stade Francais in the Heineken Champions Cup, he has now reflected on his Six Nations and spoken for the first time about how it didn’t pan out as desired.  

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Speaking to rugbyrama.fr, Russell was asked about the criticism of him from the Scottish media following the defeat to Wales which came seven days after they had opened the tournament with their win over England. “It doesn’t stress me out that much,” he insisted. 

“After our victory over England, we were the best team in the world. After the defeat in Cardiff, I was good to be thrown into oblivion… That day, I received a yellow card for having attempted an interception near our goal line, but I would do the exact same thing again if I had the chance. The shot was good, I swear!”

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The sin-binning incident added further fuel to the allegation that Russell is a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde type of figure on the rugby pitch. Does it tire him? “This reputation has followed me throughout my career. When I landed in Glasgow and then in the Scottish team, I tried different things, things that other players did not do before me.

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“But if you look at how the out-halves on the international circuit play, they also try things: off-loads, kicks over the top, all that stuff. Marcus Smith does it, Romain Ntamack too. When it’s me, I’m told that it’s ‘risky’, that it’s not a ‘good idea’… Maybe I should have started rugby 15 years later,” he quipped with a reported smile. 

Russell was also quizzed about his final round benching by Scotland in Dublin. Asked was he annoyed to be dropped by Gregor Townsend, he replied: “That’s how it is. Nobody likes being relegated to the bench. It was the second time it happened to me with Scotland, both times under Gregor. The first time, it was for my 50th cap.”

Was it a punishment this time? “There must also be some of that, yes,” admitted Russell, who was later asked about his average-man physique. “I’m a rugby player, an out-half, not a bodybuilder. My job is not to push hard in the scrum or to overtake the opponent on the wing.

“The important thing for me is the psychological side; it’s about staying happy on and off the pitch. This is how I practice my best rugby. My body doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care if I don’t have chocolate bars. I love burgers and pizza too much, anyway…”

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