FINN Russell was in hospital last night after sustaining what his coach, Gregor Townsend, called “a very serious injury”. The Glasgow Warriors stand-off was injured in the opening minute of his team’s 16-11 defeat by Connacht in the PRO12 semi-final, and needed oxygen before going to hospital.

Russell collided with team-mate Zander Fagerson, who was also unable to resume after failing a head-injury assessment, but was said by Townsend to have not been so badly hurt. “It was an unfortunate incident and a very serious injury,” Townsend said. “We’re concerned for Finn. Zander is okay, but Finn’s in hospital.

“It was a bad head injury. He had to be taken off - he had to have oxygen. I think he got hit in the face too, so we're just waiting to see, but he's at hospital.

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“It’s one of these freak accidents that happen every now and again. But in terms of the game we’ve got to adapt to change the circumstances.”

Simone Favaro also had to go off before half-time after also failing an HIA, but Townsend did not make excuses for the ending of his team’s reign as champions. “This is the end of the season,” the coach added. “We’re hugely disappointed. We believed we could come here and win.

“Obviously it’s tough to win an away semi-final, but the playing group we have and the work we put in we believed we could win. But credit to Connacht - they deserved the win today and the two top teams go to the final, and credit to them to get into the top two.

“We’re obviously very disappointed, as we play to get into finals and we play to win titles,” the coach added. I know the effort which has gone in and I need to praise the players for their effort.

“Our scrum was very good and maybe we didn’t get the rewards in a couple of them, but the effort was there. We maybe need to do a bit better in making better use of the possession.”

“There are lots of moments you wish you could change when you look at a game. In certain parts we were off and this game and was about holding onto the ball more.”

Townsend insisted his team could come back stronger next season after failing to match their own high standards in their bid to reach the final for a third consecutive year. “We can bounce back from this. We’ve lost in a semi-final away from home and it’s disappointing as we wanted to get into that final.

“We don’t judge where we are on wins and losses: we judge things on consistency throughout a season and are we improving? I believe we are, as we have a new group of players who have shown they can play at this level.

“We need to improve again next season as there will be more teams challenging for the top four. Connacht have come through this year, and I’d imagine the likes of Cardiff, Ospreys and Edinburgh will be challenging hard next year.”

Connacht, who are in the play-offs for the first time, now go on to meet Leinster in the final at Murrayfield on Saturday. They will be underdogs, but so they have been all season - and they have not been fazed yey.

“The boys showed a lot of class in the way they played,” Pat Lam, the Connacht coach, said. “There’s things we didn’t do so well - we’ll improve on them.

“I was pretty calm today, because we had a really good week’s work. We’ll do that again next week.”