I love Finn Russell. I love his flair; I love his grit; I love his dynamism; I love that he attempts things no one else on the pitch would; and I love that, even when he makes mistakes, he’s willing to keep going, try again, and prove the doubters wrong. I am one of his biggest advocates, but in this current situation, it seems he is making a fool out of himself.
One gets the sense that his ego has overblown itself. That his omission from the Scotland squad for the first two games of the Six Nations has brought him back down to Earth – reminded him that he is not untouchable – and as a result is throwing his toys out the pram.
This week it seemed like the debacle was over – Gregor Townsend extended an olive branch, saying Russell could be reintegrated into the squad if he agreed to Scotland’s playing code. Russell rebuffed this offering, instead choosing the escalate the scenario by saying he has no working relationship with the coach whom he has worked under for over seven years.
Scotland need Russell: he is their best fly-half, working well with players like Huw Jones and Stuart Hogg to get their backs running fluently and dangerously. However, Russell also needs Scotland. To prove himself as a world-class number ten he he has to be playing International rugby, and also, if he has his sights set on the Lions’ tour of South Africa next summer, playing exclusively for Racing 92 will do him no favours.
Finn Russell seems to be the type of player that, when his back is against the wall, is willing to take on the challenge and prove his doubters wrong. Think back to that Calcutta Cup match of 2018, when he played one of the best fly-half performances I’ve ever seen in Scotland’s 25-13 win over England at Murrayfield.
Scotland’s fixture against Italy in two weeks’ time would have seemed like the perfect opportunity for Russell to come back in to the side and help his team to their first win of this year’s Six Nations, but if he continues to rebuff any sort of conciliatory gesture then he could be putting his whole international career in doubt – a shame for everyone involved with rugby.
By Will Sewell.