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Finn Russell's discipline is becoming 'a bit of an issue'

By Stefan Frost
Finn Russell /Getty

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Former Scotland lock Jim Hamilton has questioned the discipline of Finn Russell, after the flyhalf received yet another card in a Six Nations game over the weekend.

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In a tight contest against Wales at the Principality stadium, Russell was sent to the bin with the scores tied at 17-17 and 67 minutes on the clock. The infringement proved dramatic, as Wales quickly took a three point lead which they protected until the final whistle.

As it stands, that’s two yellows and a red in Russell’s last seven Six Nations appearances.

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Finn Russell on fighting waterboys, facing the Springboks & $100k watches | RugbyPass Offload | EP 9

“The game could have gone either way,” Hamilton said on RugbyPass’ Fanzone Live. “The big standout moment was Finn Russell getting yellow carded with 12 minutes to go in the game.

“Look, I love Finn, I’m good mates with Finn. I’m one of his biggest fans as a player, but you know the discipline thing now is becoming a bit of an issue. He got yellow carded last year against England, red carded against France. He went on to win those games, but it’s kind of caught up with him a little bit and the team a little bit.”

In Russell’s absence at the death, Scotland struggled for ideas with ball in hand. The sin-binning was the third consecutive time Russell had been carded in a Six Nations away game, a stat that will force Scotland coach Gregor Townsend to evaluate the poise of his playmaker.

“When you lose your 10 at that moment in such a tight game, it’s going to be tough for Scotland, especially with someone like Finn Russell who is integral to Scotland,” Hamilton reflected.

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However, Hamilton claimed that ill discipline was not the sole cause of Scotland’s demise.

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“I thought Scotland were going to win, a lot of people did, he said. “I remember a few years ago when John Barclay was captain, in the first game of the championship people were saying Scotland are going to win this because Wales were struggling. And they hammered us. We were embarrassed. We weren’t embarrassed yesterday but Alex Cuthbert’s chase for the kick off the post summed it up. They were just quicker to the ball and a little bit more physical.”

Joining Hamilton on Fanzone Live was Leicester Tigers flyhalf Freddie Burns, who sees similarities with his playing style and Russell’s. Nonetheless, Burns made clear that this disciplinary trend cannot continue if Scotland are to push on and win more games.

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“It’s one thing to have a 10 sin-binned as he controls the game, but it’s another thing when it is Finn Russell in that Scotland team,” Burns said. “He is paramount to everything that is good about them.

“Me and Finn probably have similar attitudes to the game, we live and die by the sword. If he gets that intercept, he relieves the pressure.

“You never want Finn to curb his enthusiasm but once you start racking up a record of disciplinary issues, you leave your team in a mess.”

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