Gregor Townsend

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Gregor Townsend
Full name Gregor Peter John Townsend
Date of birth (1973-04-26) 26 April 1973 (age 44)
Place of birth Galashiels, Scotland
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 93 kg (14 st 9 lb)
School Galashiels Academy
University University of Edinburgh
Aston University
Rugby union career
Position(s) Head Coach
Current team Scotland
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1993, 1995
Correct as of 12 May 2017
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Northampton Saints
Border Reivers
Border Reivers
Correct as of 12 May 2017
Super Rugby
Years Team Apps (Points)
2004 Sharks 9 ()
Correct as of 12 May 2017
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
British and Irish Lions
Correct as of 12 May 2017
Teams coached
Years Team
Border Reivers (Player/Coach)
Scotland A (Asst. Coach)
Scotland (Asst. Coach)
Glasgow Warriors

Gregor Peter John Townsend, MBE (born 26 April 1973 in Galashiels) is a Scottish rugby union coach and former player. He is currently the head coach of the Scotland national team having previously been an assistant coach from 2009 to 2012. As a player, he won 82 caps for Scotland and two for the British and Irish Lions. He is a former coach of Glasgow Warriors and was a player-coach for Border Reivers. As well as in Scotland, he played club rugby in Australia, England, France and South Africa.

He was awarded an MBE in 1999 for services to rugby.[1]

Playing career[edit]


Townsend started playing for his local club Gala RFC from a young age, coming through the ranks from the mini section to senior side.[2] In 1993, Townsend spent a season in Australia, playing for Warringah in the Shute Shield. He was part of the team that came runners-up to Gordon, losing 23–19. He returned to the club in 1995 after leaving his local side Gala.

In 1995, he joined English side Northampton Saints for the 1995–96 Courage League National Division Two, where he helped the side to promotion to the top English division for 1996. He remained with the club for a further two seasons in the top English division before moving to France to play for Brive in the French Rugby Union Championship.[3] Across the two seasons he played for the club, Brive did not make much success which saw Townsend move to play for Castres Olympique in 2000.[3] In Townsend first season with Castres, the side topped Pool 1 which saw them advance through to the quarter finals where they defeated Colomiers 37–26. However, Castres failed to make the final after losing to Toulouse 32–21 in the semi final. Following a disappointing 2001–02 Top 16 season, Townsend returned to Scotland to play for Border Reivers.

After retiring from international rugby in 2003, in December of that year Townsend signed with Super 12 South African side the Sharks.[4] He played a single season for the Sharks outfit before he returned to France to play for Montpellier.[5]

In 2005, he returned home to Scotland for a second time and was a player/coach for the Border Reivers until they were disbanded at the end of the 2006–07 season.


Townsend made his international debut at the age of 19, coming off the bench against England on 6 March 1993 during the 1993 Five Nations Championship. It wasn't until a year later where Townsend gained his second cap, which was a starting position against Wales during the 1994 Five Nations Championship. He then started the next 35 tests for Scotland before he was next played off the bench.

In December 1996 he represented the Barbarians, playing against Australia at Twickenham.[6] In 1997, he was selected for the British Lions tour to South Africa by Ian McGeechan. He played in six games, including starting against South Africa in the first and second tests.[7]

During the 1999 Five Nations Championship, Townsend scored a try against every other country, becoming the first Scotsman since 1925 to achieve this feat.[8] His efforts across all four game helped Scotland to claim the Championship for the first time since 1990. Later that year, he was selected for his first ever Rugby World Cup , where he played in every Scotland game Scotland. However, Scotland failed to progress past the quarter-finals after losing to New Zealand 30–18. He was again selected for Scotland's World Cup squad in 2003, and again played in every game. However, Scotland again did not progress past the quarter-finals, as they lost to hosts Australia 33–16. This was his last ever match playing for Scotland.[9]

Townsend made oneappearance, playing for the French Barbarians during his stint with Montpellier, against Australia in November 2004.[10]

Toonie flip[edit]

This is the nickname given to the reverse pass which Townsend gave to Gavin Hastings for Scotland to register a dramatic and famous last-minute 23–21 victory against France in Paris in 1995.

Playing honours[edit]


British and Irish Lions

  • South African test series


Northampton Saints

CA Brive

Coaching career[edit]

Border Reivers[edit]

On Townsend's return to Scotland, he took up a player/coach role with Border Reivers which was where he started his coaching career. After the club disbanded in 2007, he started a Scotland mentoring program in which a number of former internationals gave specialized coaching to rising Scottish players. This included working with the top Scottish clubs, Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors, and the age-grade national sides, while he also worked with the amateur/semi-pro clubs.


In October 2008, he was appointed as assistant coach for the Scotland A national side ahead of their matches in later that year.[11] In January 2009, he was appointed backs coach for the national side,[12] before becoming the national attack coach the following season.

During his tenure, he helped Scotland to their first win over Australia since 1982 and their first win over South Africa since 2002. He was their attack coach during the 2011 Rugby World Cup where Scotland failed to advance past the pool stage.

Glasgow Warriors[edit]

In March 2012, Townsend stood down from his role with the national team and replaced Sean Lineen at Glasgow Warriors as their head coach.[13]

In his first season in charge, he maintained Glasgow's positioning in the play-off's of the Pro12, but like in the previous season under Lineen, Glasgow was knocked out by Leinster in the semi-finals. As Glasgow continued to build under Townsend, they made their first final appearance after beating Munster in the semi-finals 16–15. They faced Leinster in the final, only to lose 34–12. In Europe, they continued to struggle, finishing bottom of their pool for the second consecutive season.

The 2014–15 season not only saw Glasgow narrowly miss out on the knock-out stage of the European Rugby Champions Cup, with a loss to Bath in their final pool game, but they also made their second consecutive final in the Pro12. In that final, they defeated Munster 31–13 to claim their first ever Pro 12 title.[14] During that season, Glasgow won all of their home games in the Pro 12, extending their unbeaten run at Scotstoun to 21 games. This unbeaten run came to an end when they were beaten by the Scarlets in the opening round of the 2015–16 Pro12 season. During the 2015–16, Glasgow failed to retain their title after they were knocked out by Connacht, who were later crowned champions, in the semi-finals.

The 2016–17 season would be Townsend's last at Glasgow, with the announcement of him taking charge of the Scottish national side in June 2017, replacing Vern Cotter when his contract expires.[15] In that season, Glasgow failed to make the Pro 12 play-off's for the first time since the 2010–11 Celtic League season. Up until that point, they were the only club to have made the play-off's under the current Pro 12 format. However, Glasgow did make the knockout stage of the 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup, only to fall against Saracens in the quarter-finals 38–13. This was the first Glasgow side to make the top tier competition play-off in Europe, since the 1997–98 Heineken Cup, though Glasgow did make the second tier competition knockout stage during the 2006–07 European Challenge Cup.

He leaves the club with a 62% win rate across all competitions, winning 91 games from the 147 games coached.


Townsend took over the head coach role for the Scotland national rugby team when the Warriors season finished in May 2017. On 8 May, Townsend named his first squad for Scotland's 2017 June tests.[16] His first game in charge of Scotland was a 34–13 victory against Italy in Singapore, which was backed up by a first ever win in Sydney against Australia 24–19. However, their final test on tour, an away game to Fiji, saw Scotland narrowly lose to the Flying Fijians 27–22, to see Scotland lose to the Pacific nation for the first time since 1998, the last time they played in Suva.

International Matches as Head Coach[edit]

Note: World Rankings Column shows the World Ranking Scotland was placed at on the following Monday after each of their matches

Matches (2017–present)
Matches Date Opposition Venue Score
Competition World Ranking
1 10 June Italy National Stadium, Kallang, Singapore 34–13 n/a 6th
2 17 June Australia Allianz Stadium, Sydney 24–19 n/a 5th
3 24 June Fiji ANZ National Stadium, Suva 22–27 n/a 6th
4 11 November Samoa BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh 44–38 n/a 6th
5 18 November New Zealand BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh 17–22 n/a 6th
6 25 November Australia BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh 53–24 n/a 6th


Coaching Honours[edit]


Glasgow Warriors



  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1)
  • Townsend, Gregor Talk of the Toony: The Autobiography of Gregor Townsend (HarperSport, 2007 ISBN 978-0-00-725113-1)

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
New Zealand Vern Cotter
Scottish national rugby coach
Succeeded by