Gregor Townsend has blamed English rugby chiefs for his decision to leave Saracens centre Duncan Taylor out of Scotland’s Six Nations squad.

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The Dark Blues coach has hit out at the scheduling of Saracens’ Gallagher Premiership clash with Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop just six days before the Scots kick-off their championships against Ireland in Dublin on February 1.

Mark McCall’s outfit are also in Heineken Champions Cup action this Sunday against Finn Russell’s Racing 92 side and Townsend claims that would have left the 30-year-old available for just one training session next week as they prepare for their opener with Andy Farrell’s team.

Taylor has fought back from a two-year injury nightmare to rediscover his best form.

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He was one of Townsend’s World Cup picks but has now been axed.

Strangely, however, his club-mate Sean Maitland has been included in Townsend’s 38-man squad.

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Explaining his decision, the Scotland boss said: “Duncan is in a position where there is a lot of competition. He is playing well. He obviously missed the whole of last season.

“We rate Duncan very highly and he worked really hard in the World Cup camp fighting against a couple of injury niggles, and obviously hadn’t played for a season.

“He worked really hard in our away warm-up game in France and in the games at the World Cup he played but he wasn’t back yet up to top form and top speed. However, he has shown that for Saracens over the last few weeks.

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“But, unfortunately for Duncan as well as the competition, Saracens play Sunday-Sunday next week.

“That for me is ridiculous – that the Premiership have got a game six days before we play Ireland.

“So, we are training five sessions from Monday to Monday, and those Saracens players can only make one of those five sessions.

“It is not Duncan’s fault, it is not Sean Maitland’s fault – although Sean is in our squad – and it is not Saracens’ fault to have a fixture the Sunday before the Six Nations.

“None of the England players will play that week, they’ll be away at their camp in Portugal.

“It does make it really difficult for us to prepare the team the best we can. Duncan’s been unlucky in that regard.

“There is a lot of competition in centre but the fact that we know he is only going to make one of those five training days means that we have not included him this time.”

– Press Association

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