Influential fly-half Finn Russell will not play in Scotland’s Six Nations opener against Ireland next Saturday after “a breach of team protocol”, Scottish Rugby have confirmed.
However, it is understood the Racing 92 playmaker left the team’s training camp in Edinburgh of his own accord.
It remains unclear whether the 27-year-old will play at all in the campaign.
“Finn Russell will play no further part in preparations for Scotland’s Six Nations opener,” a statement read.
After last season’s epic 38-38 draw with England, Russell said a half-time “argument” with coach Gregor Townsend helped spark a remarkable comeback.
Scotland trailed 31-7 at the break, but roared back to lead before George Ford’s last-gasp converted try denied them a first Twickenham win since 1983.
“I actually had an argument with Gregor [at half-time],” Russell told ITV after the game.
“I said to him ‘you’re telling us to kick and when we kick, they just run it back and cut us open, and when we run it, they’re just hitting us behind the gain line and winning the ball back’.
“Second half, we just came out with nothing to lose, played our rugby, kicked out of our half and scored some great tries. We played good Scottish rugby.”
‘Hard to imagine more devastating blow’ – analysis
It’s hard to imagine a more devastating blow to Scotland’s Six Nations hopes just nine days before they kick-off their campaign against Ireland in Dublin.
Russell is the one player in the Townsend’s side you would describe as irreplaceable. He’s the creative heartbeat of the team and when he’s missing Scotland are a much weaker proposition.
His decision to leave the Scotland training camp will send shockwaves through the Scottish support and the Six Nations as a whole.
Townsend was already under enormous pressure going into this championship off the back of a failed World Cup campaign.
Having his star fly-half walk out on the squad just over a week before the Six Nations opener only heaps more heat on the head coach, who must surely be hoping this situation can still be salvaged and Russell can be tempted back into the fold.