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great scot! Scotland rocked by controversy as Ireland target Triple Crown title

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Finn Russell during the Scotland captain's run at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Finn Russell during the Scotland captain's run at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Finn Russell during the Scotland captain's run at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

As Ireland gear up for their Triple Crown bid, Scotland’s preparations for today’s Six Nations finale at the Aviva Stadium have been rocked by revelations that six members of their squad including captain Stuart Hogg and benched star out-half Finn Russell were disciplined for breaching team protocols last weekend.

Hogg, Russell and starters Darcy Graham, Sam Johnson and Ali Price joined dropped centre Sione Tuipulotu defied the orders of coach Gregor Townsend to go to a bar in Edinburgh last Saturday night after they’d returned from their win over Italy in Rome.

Details emerged on the BBC yesterday, with the Scottish Rugby Union confirming that the players were disciplined in the aftermath of an incident that heaps pressure on the coach at the end of a disappointing campaign.

“The Scotland management team have this week dealt with a post-match matter involving six players following the game against Italy last weekend,” the statement read.

“The players involved have been spoken to individually and those conversations and outcomes will remain private.

“Preparations for the match against Ireland this week have been good and the whole squad is fully focused on achieving a positive result on Saturday.”

Ireland, meanwhile, are targeting the win that would earn them a Triple Crown and keep them in the hunt for the title if England can upset unbeaten leaders France in Paris in the final game of the day (ko: 8.0).

Andy Farrell’s men have been trying to address the scrum woes that beset them in their win over England at Twickenham last weekend and, while they received positive feedback from World Rugby on the six penalties awarded by French official Mathieu Raynal last week, attack coach Mike Catt challenged them to find their own solutions in-games or risk paying a high price.

“It’s a big learning curve for us in terms of us not being able to solve the problem in the moment,” he said.

“That’s been one of the key things for us, we’ve got to find a way.

“If we want to win championships and things like that, be successful going forward then we need to find solutions on the hoof.

“That’s been one of the key things, I don’t know much about what goes on in the dark arts of the front-row but I’m sure (scrum coach) John Fogarty has sorted it all out for this weekend.”

Scotland may be coming to town on the back of a middling campaign and yesterday’s news won’t have helped, but Catt is wary of what they have to offer.

“Scotland have taken some major scalps recently, so we’re under no illusions,” he said.

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“It’s going to be exceptionally tough, a very physical side. So, we’ve got to make sure to put in a performance which the nation can be proud of.

“They’re a very good side, coached well.”


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