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Townsend: 'The real reason' Jamie Ritchie was shelved as captain

By Ian Cameron
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend during the launch of the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has said that Jamie Ritchie will have to battle his way into the team on merit after being stripped of the captaincy ahead of the Six Nations.

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Townsend confirmed Finn Russell and Rory Darge as co-captains shortly after naming his 39-man Guinness Six Nations squad, relieving Ritchie of the captaincy duties he first took up in 2022.

“It’s really down to the amount of competition we have in the back row. Players who have played in the World Cup have really put their hand up for selection,” said Townsend.

“The focus for Jamie right now is to be the best player Jamie can be. If he []Ritchie] can get into the team on his merits he can be one of our best players, we know that. He is competing with some guys that are in really good form right now, at openside or blindside. So that was the real reason. Jamie will still be a leader for us.

“The way he led, he brought the leadership out of others in the team. That’s how we see Rory and Finn as well.”

Townsend backed his two captains to kick on as joint skippers. “The two players Rory and Finn, are leaders in different ways that we think really highly of. It’s a good way to develop our leadership.

“They complement each other well. Finn has played lots of test matches and he’ll be able to lead with that. Rory is a big leader of our physicality on defence.”

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Some referees have been reluctant to communicate with more than one matchday captain during gameplay, but it’s not something that Townsend is overly worried about.

“You’ll have to wait and see,” replied Townsend when asked by RugbyPass who the designated match day captain would be if both players are selected. “We’ve had co-captains in the past. We did have game a couple of years ago with two captains. We had to say before the game, who [the referee] do you want to chat with, is it okay if two people chat to you. It might be something different. The ref may want to talk to Rory or Finn.

“There will be someone to do the coin toss and give the last message to the referee, and we’ll see how that develops over the championship.”

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