GREGOR Townsend is thrilled to remain in the job that he loves but he has admitted that he had resigned himself to the likelihood that his time as Scotland head coach was drawing to an end.

His previous contract was due to expire after the upcoming World Cup and there was intense speculation during the winter that he would be leaving his post following the autumn showpiece in France.

However, tentative negotiations began in the middle of the recent Six Nations campaign, and it was confirmed on Tuesday that the 50-year-old’s contract had been extended.

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He said: “I suppose the time when I wasn’t getting offered the contract, there was a lot of thinking going on there and a couple of stages in the season I thought ‘this will be my last season’, so to be able to at least have the discussion and think about the future has been a big positive and I’m obviously delighted to be able to stay with this group in this role for a few more years,” he said.

Townsend was linked with other jobs earlier this year but he insists there was never any likelihood he would commit to anything at that point.

“Not really,” he said, when asked if he was close to pledging his future elsewhere during his period in contract limbo.

“There were a couple of approaches between the Autumn Tests and the Six Nations but I don’t think there was any chance I was going to commit to anything before the Six Nations.

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“The positive was that during the Six Nations, discussions started to happen between Scottish Rugby and myself. While I felt I wasn’t going to get a contract offer here, I don’t think I was going to commit to anything with a tournament on the horizon.”

Townsend, who will have been in charge for nine years if he sees out his contract added:

“Not being able to make that choice or decision (to stay) was the difficult part,” he said.

“Me and the coaches focused on the rugby side of it because there wasn’t really any decision to make until we got to a stage where there was a contract offer.

“I love the job. You get ups and downs with it but I feel real sense of purpose being in the job.

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“I’ve loved this season more than any other, the emotion down at Twickenham, seeing the way the guys came back in Paris, to have experienced a tour like last summer (in South America) with new, young players that breathed life into the team. We obviously want to build on that in the next few months ahead.”