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Russell gives Townsend Sunday scare

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Finn Russell is Scotland's latest injury scare as good news emerges on Hogg prognosis

Gregor Townsend was given a Sunday afternoon scare with the sight of Scotland out-half Finn Russell exiting for a head injury assessment just before half-time in Racing 92’s Top 14 match with Toulouse and not returning for the second half. 

While both clubs rested their France international players, the Scottish play-maker was forced to start the high-profile league match just six days before his country take on the French at the Stade de France in the Six Nations. 

It left Townsend vulnerable to hearing bad news about his player on the same day it was reported that Stuart Hogg’s injury last weekend against Ireland wasn’t as bad as feared. 

It had been suggested the full-back would miss the remainder of the championship, but his shoulder problem could now clear in time for the final round Calcutta Cup match versus England. Hogg is rated as an “outside bet” to be available. 

That initial good news, though, was followed by Townsend being left sweating over Russell’s availability to face France after he didn’t complete a hugely entertaining five-try first-half that ended with Toulouse leading 27-12 in a match that was a dress rehearsal for the March 31 Champions Cup quarter-final between the teams. 

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Russell had been having a mixed afternoon before his game-ending 37th minute collision with the ball-carrying Lucas Tauzin, the Toulouse player’s knee colliding with the side of the face of the tackling out-half and forcing him off for a HIA. He didn’t return for the second half, his place being taken by Fijian Ben Volavola. 

It was Russell’s loose pass that had earlier given Toulouse their opening try. He quickly hit back, deftly stepping inside Zack Holmes to score on 11 minutes and then giving the try-scoring assist to Juan Imhoff to finish off a move he had started with a ground-gaining break out wide.  

Russell wasn’t on place-kicking duty for Racing, the out-half spotted making a change signal towards the bench after his initial try. 

Teddy Iribaren was instead on the tee, but the Scot still did some tactical kicking during the course of an opening hand in which he was responsible for a big missed tackle in the lead-up to Toulouse’s second try. 

The early exit of Russell mirrored the premature departure of Wales out-half Dan Biggar from Northampton’s Saturday match in the Premiership against Sale. 

The injury concerns surrounding both play-makers heading into round three of the Six Nations highlighted the risk of countries relying heavily on star players contracted to clubs elsewhere.  

Six of Scotland’s seven players based in other countries had to play club rugby. So, too, did five of Wales’ six non-Welsh based players along with the three Italy players earning a wage in France and England respectively.

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Finn Russell is Scotland's latest injury scare as good news emerges on Hogg prognosis