Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend blasted Premiership Rugby for not allowing some of his players to train with the squad during an off week – despite their clubs not having any games to play.  

Under World Rugby’s regulation nine rule, players from England and France must return to their clubs during the ‘fallow’ Six Nations weeks.  

That meant Townsend was unable to call upon co-captain Finn Russell, as well as his half-back partner Ben White and fullback Blair Kinghorn, in the run-up to the Calcutta Cup win on Saturday.  

While White and Kinghorn were required for club duty by Toulon and Toulouse, respectively, Russell’s club side Bath are in the middle of a break with Premiership rugby paused during the Six Nations.  

He wasn’t able to train with the squad in the week leading up to the game, and with Ben Healy required by Edinburgh and Ross Thompson by Glasgow, rookie Richie Simpson had to step in at fly-half.  

Scotland Rugby News: Richie Simpson had to fill in as Scotland's fly-halfRichie Simpson had to fill in as Scotland's fly-half (Image: SNS)

Townsend said: “We don’t have the best preparation. Going into the Calcutta Cup game, England had double the preparation because our English-based players aren’t allowed to train with us even though there are no Premiership games; even though in this coming week clubs are off for a week. 

“We’re still not allowed to have the likes of Finn Russell training with us this week. Two training sessions was all we had as a team going into the England game, where it would have been four if we’d had them in the week before. 

“I’d imagine it’s going to be the same situation this time, which is a real disadvantage that we have.  

“I don’t think it’s right for the competition’s overall integrity.” 

Townsend said Scottish Rugby had taken up the issue with Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL), and says the clubs have also suggested they would support their players being release for national team duty.  

He said: “We have been, but we’ve had no success over the last two weeks to get our players. There is apparently a bigger picture of player release, but the clubs have indicated to us that they want their players training with us, because there are no training sessions for them, or they are in the middle of a pre-season period. 

“There is no game in the Premiership for seven or eight weeks, but we still can’t have our co-captain who has been lighting up the Premiership even come into camp for two days’ training. 

Scotland Rugby News: Finn Russell is one of the Scotland players unable to train with the national team this weekFinn Russell is one of the Scotland players unable to train with the national team this week (Image: SNS)

“It’s a credit to the players that they went into the England game after two sessions as a whole squad and delivered that performance.” 

Townsend said not being able to call upon his co-captain “doesn’t make any sense” when his club side have no training or games.  

He added: “It’s not right and I really wish this situation was better because it’s not fair for our players.” 

Townsend is not hopeful of a short-term fix with another week off now before his side prepare to play Italy and Ireland on consecutive weekends.  

“When we’re playing England and they don’t allow our English-based players to come up, I don’t think they will change for Italy. If they do, why they didn’t do it this week is even more disappointing. 

“PRL have told the clubs the players have to go back. Bath are off this week so the players won’t be training.” 

A Premiership Rugby spokesman said: "Premiership Rugby can confirm the movement of players during the Guinness Six Nations fallow weeks as per World Rugby's Regulation 9 - Availability of Players.

"Premiership Rugby has a long-standing agreement with the RFU for the release of England players to prepare for Test matches.

"As per World Rugby’s Regulation 9, all International players are released for the unions in the defined periods and then return to their Premiership clubs - as per previous campaigns.

"While a review of World Rugby Regulation 9 compensation is undertaken ahead of a new global calendar from 2026, Premiership Rugby will continue to adhere to the regulation as it stands."