WHEN he announced his first Scotland squad last week, Gregor Townsend made it clear he would largely aim to add to what Vern Cotter had built rather than going for a wholesale reconstruction of the national team’s style of play. “There won’t be too many changes,” was how the new head coach put it.
At the end of Scotland’s first three-day training camp since the Scot took over from the New Zealander, however, some alterations have already become apparent. Indeed, the way tighthead prop Zander Fagerson sees it, the change has been substantial.
That does not mean that the game plan adopted for the coming summer Tests against Italy, Australia and FIji will be a radical departure from the one employed by Cotter. Nor are the changes necessarily for the better or worse, being in part down to the fact that a former back rather than an ex-forward is now in charge. But Fagerson’s explanation of the new approach does at least provide some insight into the way things will be conducted under Townsend, perhaps especially in the way the new boss expects players to take responsibility for dealing with their own errors.
“Different coaching techniques – everything’s different,” Fagerson said yesterday. “We’re all getting to know each other. You can make a mistake and not get yelled at, instead of with Vern, when you’d get a bollocking.
“Vern and Gregor are two fantastic coaches and both get their point across. You either buy in or you don’t. Gregor likes a review and seeing you doing your work and going over your clips – he likes you to do that instead of him coming to you.
“Vern was pretty much the same: he’d call you out if you did something wrong. I think Gregor’s more about details.
“It’s all about the process of performance and detail. You don’t run your dummy lines you’ll hear about it, but in different ways. One puts the fear of God into you, and the other is just ‘Do it again’.”
Having emphasised the divergent attitudes to errors of the new and old coaches, Fagerson went on to suggest that, as Townsend had said, there will be continuity when it comes to Scotland’s style of play. “Vern and Gregor are quite similar,” he said. “Vern is a Kiwi and Gregor likes to play like the Kiwis, an expansive game. They don’t want to maul and scrum all day.
“So we want to pride ourselves on that and build it. The game’s changing completely – I don’t think the game’s all about scrums and mauls, it’s about expansive rugby now.
“You look at the Six Nations and there weren’t that many tries scored from scrums and mauls. I love the hard yards and the dirty work, but I also like playing with the ball in hand.”
For Fagerson and the other Warriors players there is inevitably an element of continuity given that not only Townsend but also the rest of the new coaching team have moved from Scotstoun. But, as the forward added, some new ideas have been introduced – and more are sure to follow over the next couple of weeks when the squad convenes again before flying out to Singapore and their first match under new management, against Italy.
“We’re recapping a few things and he’s bringing things from Glasgow, but new things as well. It’s a blank slate for everyone. We’re just trying to get as much in as possible, so there’s a lot of work, a lot of notes. There’s a few calls I’m thinking ‘We’ve never done that before’.”
Source : HeraldScotland