No disconnect between Scotland & Lions, says Gregor Townsend

Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg
Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg were the only Scots in Warren Gatland's initial Lions squad in 2017

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend says he does not expect be invited to join Warren Gatland's British and Irish Lions coaching staff in 2021.

Townsend turned down a role on Gatland's coaching team for the 2017 tour to New Zealand, for which only two Scots made the initial 41-man squad.

It continued a trend of diminishing Scottish representation on Lions tours.

But Townsend played down the idea of a disconnect between Scotland and the Lions.

"I'm sure I won't get the offer this time after turning it down last time," Townsend told BBC Scotland.

"The Lions has been a big part of my rugby career. I managed to go on a tour and it was the ultimate achievement I had in my career.

"We as coaches and players think very highly of the Lions. Anybody would love to be involved in that."

Townsend, alongside fellow Scottish players Alan Tait, Rob Wainwright and Tom Smith, was instrumental in leading the Lions to a 2-1 series win over world champions South Africa in 1997.

Since then the number of Scots to taste Test action for the Lions has dwindled, with the 2017 series draw against the All Blacks the first for over a century to feature no players from north of the border.

Townsend says competition for the famous red jersey has never been more fierce, but is confident his Scotland players can rise to that challenge as the Lions prepare to return to South Africa in 2021.

"The northern hemisphere teams have been playing excellent rugby, the teams from Britain and Ireland especially," Townsend said.

"I think you've got the teams ranked second, third, fourth and seventh in the world that form the British and Irish Lions. That would never have happened before. Competition for places is stronger than it's ever been and that makes it a challenge for us as Scots.

"We haven't won Grand Slams like the other teams over the last few years but I'm a big believer in our players, that they can get on that Lions tour. World Cup, Six Nations and beyond, if they're playing well in those tournaments they've got a good chance of going."

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