Williams rings the changes as Townsend exits

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It was all change for Scotland yesterday with old players retiring, new faces being named in a preliminary Six Nations squad and new coach Matt Williams introducing a controversial new "Fortress Scotland" plan as he builds towards the next World Cup.

Gregor Townsend, the country's most capped player, announced his retirement from international rugby, bringing to an end an international career that began against England 10 years ago.

In 82 appearances for Scotland Townsend, 30, amassed 164 points, including 17 tries and he also played in two tests for the 1997 British and Irish Lions in South Africa. But he intends to carry on playing for the Borders and hinted at the possibility of coaching as well.

"Over the last few years I've really been building up my knowledge of the game. I want to put what I've learned back into the game, but at the moment, I'm putting everything into playing for The Borders." Townsend was not alone in turning his back on a Test career. Full-back Glenn Metcalfe (40 caps) and centre James McLaren (30) also chose yesterday to announce their departure from the international scene.

McLaren, 31, who made his debut six years after Townsend in 1999, now plays for Aviron Bayonnais in the Second Division of the French Championship. New Zealand-born Metcalfe, who moved to Glasgow from Waikato six years ago, is also keen to continue working within Scottish rugby.

"Before the World Cup I'd mentioned that I'd really like to spend some more time concentrating on playing and helping develop some of the younger players at Glasgow." The departing trio follow the recent retirements of coaching director Jim Telfer and manager Dougie Morgan, as well as captain Bryan Redpath, who retired at the end of the World Cup, and yesterday defence coach Alan Tait also stepped down after new coach Matt Williams announced he would be taking on that role as well.

Williams promptly sprang a couple of surprises on the Scots, firstly by including 14 uncapped players in his first squad since taking over from Ian McGeechan; then, more controversially, warning players they will not be selected for future Scotland teams if they continue to ply their trade in a different country, while Edinburgh Rugby, Glasgow Rugby and The Borders will be limited to two overseas players in the future.