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Champions League qualifier

Celtic strike five; SRU name new coach

Brendan Rodgers vidFootball – Champions League: Celtic 5 Hapoel Beer Sheva 2

Celtic put themselves into a commanding position in this qualifying tie.

Rogic opend the scoring in nine minutes followed by two from Griffiths.

But they risked throwing away their half-time lead when the visitors from Israel pulled two goals back after the break.

However, goals from Dembele, once again a scoring substitute, and captain Brown restored the three goal difference.

Celtic came close to a sixth in the dying moments, first when Scott Sinclair had a shot diverted away by goalkeeper David Goresh and when Dembele won a free-kick in a good position just before the referee blew the final whistle.

Celtic visit southern April next Tuesday for the second leg and Brendan Rodgers (pictured) will be confident that his team can qualify for the lucrative group stages.

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Gregor TownsendRugby Union – Scotland: Gregor Townsend will take over from Vern Cotter as Scotland head coach next year.

The SRU said the change will take place in June when Cotter’s contract expires.

Townsend led Glasgow Warriors to the Guinness Pro12 title last year and they have reached the play-offs in each season since he took over in 2012.

He has 82 caps and was a member of the 1999 Five Nations championship winning team. The 43-year-old former stand-off was also part of the national squad’s coaching team under Andy Robinson.

Cotter, 54, left French club Clermont in 2014 to join the Murrayfield set up and despite a poor first season which left Scotland pointless he was allowed to stay on for the Rugby World Cup and was unlucky not to take Scotland into the semi-finals after the controversial defeat to Australia.

In a statement released by the SRU, Townsend said: “I am incredibly proud to take on the Scotland head coach role at the end of the season.

“It is a real honour to be given the responsibility of coaching the national team and I look forward to working with such an impressive group of players.

“I’d like to thank Scottish Rugby for this opportunity and also the supporters, players and staff at Glasgow Warriors for their support over the past four years.

“My focus is firmly on the season ahead with Glasgow and I will be doing all I can to help the club continue to progress this year.”

Cotter said: “Since taking up this role I believe we have moved forward as a group by working to execute the simple things well.

“Developing skillsets and mindsets has been important to help perform on the international stage. “The focus has been to respect tradition but also perform in the present, be adaptive and innovative. I have been really pleased with the progress that has been made in all areas.

“The players, and my management group, have enjoyed working hard to give the fans and Scottish Rugby results and performances to be proud of.

“I intend to remain focused on the upcoming Autumn Internationals and remaining Scotland matches in 2017.”

The SRU said it has begun the search for Townsend’s successor at Glasgow Warriors.

Mark Dodson, Scottish Rugbyas chief executive, said: “Gregor’s abilities as a head coach are evident and he is increasingly becoming one of the most sought after coaches in the game. I have been charged with developing Scottish coaches and believe the time is now right to secure Gregor’s talents, as we build towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“Vern Cotter has made a considerable impact on the development of the Scotland national side during his tenure. His rugby philosophy of setting high standards with a big emphasis on skill development has had a positive effect throughout Scottish rugby.”

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