Townsend: We're in a privileged position
Gregor Townsend knows how lucky they are just now. Scotland are competing in the Guinness Six Nations, as the lockdown in the UK continues due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on this week's Official Scottish Rugby Podcast, the Scotland Head Coach acknowledged that his coaches, management team and players are all in a privileged position.
Speaking ahead of Sunday's match with Ireland, Townsend said: "We are aware of the privilege, the responsibility and the good fortune that professional sport is allowed to continue through this time that has affected so many people and is so challenging for so many people.
"When we saw the videos coming in of people celebrating at the final whistle [following the win over England] it hit home even more what it means to the country to beat England, but also what people are going through.
"They've not been able to do the things they love doing, being around people like we've had the chance to do. We're in a hotel, working as a management, coaching and playing group, we're travelling together to away games and we're able to play in the Guinness Six Nations."
This week marked the first anniversary since BT Murrayfield was full - when Scotland beat France in last year's Guinness Six Nations - and Townsend says it will be a fantastic moment for both the players and fans when crowds are allowed to return.
He said: "I don't think you would ever take it for granted having supporters [at games]. We still remember the days when we didn't have many supporters at professional games or when we played for the national team. The last two or three years the amount of supporters that have come to the games at BT Murrayfield and connected with the players has been amazing.
"I've said to the squad we're living through special and unique times, it is unique to have sell-out crowds at national level. So, we'll never take that for granted.
"Can you imagine the feeling the players will have when they're running out to huge noise again, when it comes around, whenever that will be, but let's hope it's in 2021."
Scotland are preparing for their third match of this year's Guinness Six Nations against Ireland at BT Murrayfield on Sunday, following the postponement of their Round 3 match against France almost a fortnight ago.
Townsend knows they face a huge challenge when Andy Farrell's side travel to Edinburgh this weekend and says they'll need to be at their best for the full eighty-minutes if they're going to get a positive result.
He added: "They're a really tough opponent, we've lost the last four or five games against them, so we know how difficult a challenge they'll be. It has been frustrating on a couple of those occasions when we've had a lot of play, last year's Six Nations in particular we played some really good rugby at the beginning and end of the game. In the Autumn the first half hour we definitely imposed our attack on them, but in the second-half they had the upper hand.
"We know we'll have to be there for 80 minutes and every moment will count against them. They are a team with experience and now on form and with confidence, who arguably could have won their first three games. They won well against Italy, but had a chance at the end of the Wales game and chances at the end of the France game to win."
"The standard of rugby [in the Guinness Six Nations] has been very high and a couple of the games have been classics. It certainly feels like a Guinness Six Nations with what is being produced on the field. We obviously miss the occasions, the weekends and the amount of people at the games, but I think it's a step up from what we had in the autumn, with the standard of rugby, the spectacle and the intensity.
"It's been a privilege to be a part of it and it's great to see our players play well in both games, even though we didn't get two wins."