Deal struck for Stuart Hogg and other English-based players to turn out for Scotland against France
Fears that Scotland might be forced to face title contenders France in rugby’s Six Nations this Friday, March 26, without English-based players such as captain Stuart Hogg have proved to be unfounded.
A deal has now been struck giving the Dark Blues the green light to call on the likes of former Hawick star Hogg and his Exeter Chiefs team-mate Jonny Gray for the last game of 2021’s championship against les Bleus, and that news has been welcomed by the national team’s head coach, Gregor Townsend.
Scotland were originally scheduled to play the French at the Stade de France north of Paris on Sunday, February 28, but that game had to be postponed following a coronavirus outbreak in Fabien Galthie's squad and a new date was only finally fixed last Thursday, March 18.
As that date falls outside the international window agreed by Scottish Rugby and English clubs, the latter weren’t obliged to make players available but they have now agreed to do so.
Former Gala and Border Reivers hero Townsend, 47, was relieved at that turn of events, saying: “There's going to be a positive outcome, which is great to hear.
“Thanks to the parties involved - Scottish Rugby, the Six Nations and Premiership Rugby - we can get to this situation where we'll have a strong squad, as strong as we can have, going to Paris, which is a really important game for us and the tournament.
“Does this protect the integrity of the competition? Yeah, I believe it does, but I also believe it shows we can work together and find a solution.
"I'm sure there were compromises and understanding from both parties.
“I'm sure there's been some financial contributions as well.
“It's great we can have our players for this massive game."
A spokesperson for the tournament added: “Six Nations Rugby are pleased to confirm that an agreement has been reached with Premiership Rugby for the release of Scottish players for the final rescheduled fixture of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations championship, France v Scotland.
“Six Nations and Scottish Rugby would like to take this opportunity to thank all Premiership club owners for their understanding and co-operation in these exceptional Covid-affected circumstances.”
France can still win this year’s Six Nations after beating Wales 32-30 yesterday, March 20.
They go into Friday’s game in third place in the championship table with 15 points from four games, five behind table-toppers Wales. Scotland are in fourth place with 11 points.