Scottish Rugby chairman John McGuigan offered his backing to head coach Gregor Townsend but conceded Scotland under-performed during the Six Nations.  

In seven years as Scotland head coach, Townsend has guided Scotland to no higher than third in the Six Nations, while both World Cup campaigns under his charge have ended in pool stage elimination. 

McGuigan’s most recent role was Group Customer Director at Phoenix Group – a provider of insurance services based in London.  

He qualified his comments on Townsend’s future by saying he was “talking as a fan” and said rugby is not his specialism.  

He said: “Talking as a fan [it was] not good enough. We should have done a lot better.  

“No-one is happy with fourth place in the Six Nations. We certainly went into it thinking we could win it or be second. So to come out of fourth is a disappointment all round.” 

McGuigan said there was too big a delta between Scotland’s best performances of the campaign – which he picked out as the Calcutta Cup win over England – and the poor performances, like the second half collapse against Italy in Rome.  

McGuigan confirmed Townsend has effectively been left to mark his own homework with performance director Jim Mallinder and chief executive Mark Dodson both leaving the business.  

READ MORE: Independent review into Scotland's Six Nations needed

Instead of bringing in a third party to review Scotland’s campaign, Townsend will present to the board.  

Scotland Rugby News: Gregor Townsend

McGuigan put that down to a “timing situation”, while adding Mallinder will continue to play a role in the championship review.  

Whoever replaces the former Northampton Saints boss will then have an opportunity to review Scotland’s failed Six Nations further.  

McGuigan added: “There will be plenty of opportunity when the new performance director comes in to have another look at the Six Nations.  

“The important thing is to capture it all and then the person coming in will be presented with that and that will be something to work from. 

“I’m sure the person coming in will be pretty aware of where the focus needs to be.” 

McGuigan, who took over as chairman of Scottish Rugby Limited – the operating arm of the Scottish Rugby Union from John Jeffrey last year – said he has confidence in Townsend.  

He continued: “We’ve kicked around third and fourth place in the Six Nation and from that point of view we need to elevate our position from there.  

“We still have confidence in Gregor that he can do it, that he’s got the right coaching staff, he’s got the right team in place and we need to go with it just now. That’s what we believe to be the right thing to do.” 

McGuigan also confirmed he hopes the new chief executive will be appointed by the end of the month.  

The search for Dodson’s replacement has been ongoing since the chief executive announced in January that he would stand down after more than 12 years at the helm.  

McGuigan said: “We’re down to a shortlist of five.  

“Subject to everybody adhering to the dates we’ve put into people’s diaries, we’ll be done by the end of April, or the first week in May latest, when we’ll have made a decision as a board about who we are going to select.” 

He said the new chief executive – who is expected to be in place by the end of the summer, at the latest, will then have the final say on appointing a new performance director.  

McGuigan continued: “We’d want the new CEO to play their part in making the final decision on who they can work with, because the way these two people work together is going to be really critical.  

Scotland Rugby News: Outgoing Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark DodsonOutgoing Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson (Image: SNS)

“I want the CEO to run the business and I want the performance director to run the rugby, and these two things cross over at certain points.” 

He said the new performance director must address a shortage of top-class players coming through Scottish Rugby’s systems.  

"My biggest frustration at the moment is that we’ve got a glaring gap in terms of our ability to develop players and we need to sort that, and that’s that person’s job. 

“The CEO’s job is to work with me and the Board to manage the cost base but principally drive more commercial success of the business and grow up the revenue number. 

“There will be lots of other things they have to do, but, for me, those are the two fundamentals.” 

McGuigan, who has also held senior roles with Telefonica both in the UK and Europe, also gave an update on Scottish Rugby’s financial position after the business posted losses of more than £10m in its most recent accounts.  

He expects further losses in the current financial year and said it will be 2025/2026 before the business is profitable. He also outlined plans for £100 million turnover. 

“It’s an aspiration to get to £100m from where we are, but it’s not going to be in one leap,” he said.  

"We need to get there to have a business that can continue to perform, and where we can have the expectations we all want around winning things, having successful professional teams, supporting women’s rugby, making sure we have the right pathways and best coaches. We’ll need £100m to do that.” 

He is determined that the financial difficulties will not be to the detriment of the two professional clubs, while also all-but ruling out the idea of setting up a third pro team.  

He said: “We definitely don’t want to be making losses every year – we definitely don’t want to be doing that so I am putting a stop to that – we need to get back in the black again in terms of our financials – but that is why we need to grow more revenue because I don’t naturally want to inhibit the ability of Edinburgh and Glasgow to perform and be successful. 

“That’s why we have attracted the players we have, and the coaches we’ve got at both Edinburgh and Glasgow, so I think it’s incumbent on me to find the money to allow them to become as good as they can be as two pro teams.” 

The SRU chairman admitted there is work to do “in almost every area” of the game – from the national team to the player pathways and the professional clubs.  

He also said more needs to be done across the sport in general to attract a younger audience and cited the Sam Skinner ‘no try’ decision as evidence of where the sport has work to do.  

“The laws are incredibly complicated. People come along, pay their money and want to be entertained.  

Scotland Rugby News: Scotland were frustrated on Saturday

“Look at what happened at the end of the France game - that was not entertainment. Nobody could understand what the hell was going on, why that wasn’t a try, and yet there was no explanation given. 

“There was some guy you’ve never met before [the TMO] talking on a mic to the referee asking whether he had been asked the right question. That just isn’t a good advert for rugby, or a good way of bringing it to life for people, getting them excited about it. 

“We’ve got a lot to do with World Rugby and the Six Nations to excite and bring the game to more people.  

“The answer is not clear but the problem is well defined, and it’s how we deal with that."