7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
The 82-times capped Townsend drew a close to his illustrious Test career after Scotland's World Cup quarter-final defeat by France in Australia.
And now the Borders stand-off is lining up a new challenge that could see him quit the Scottish side after their four Heineken Cup assignments in January.
The Sharks are looking for back-up for their Springbok international No 10 Butch James and coach Kevin Putt feels Townsend is the ideal man to have in his squad.
'Gregor has been pulled in as support at No10, but his versatility is his strong point. He has survived at the top of the game for so long that the players will learn a lot from him,' said Putt.
'It comes down to his experience, what he brings to the team and that he has survived many years in the top echelons of rugby.'
As for the 30-year-old Townsend, who has had previous playing experience outside Scotland with Northampton, Brive and Castres Olympique, he claims playing in the Super 12 will complete his set of tournaments.
"I have played in Scotland, in the Heineken Cup, French Championship and in the English Premiership, so the Super 12 will sort of complete a set," said Townsend.
"I have always set myself fresh challenges and after my Scotland career ended, I could easily have done the easy thing and stayed in the comfort zone.
"I feel I have a duty to myself to keep on improving and strengthening my repertoire.
"If coaching is to be one of my long-term aims in rugby, then the experience of playing in the Super 12 will be a useful addition to my CV."
Townsend informed The Borders head coach, Tony Gilbert, of his desire to play in the Super 12 shortly before Christmas. That came after he opted to stand down from international rugby ahead of new Scotland coach Matt Williams' first squad announcement.
"There are some discussions in progress at the moment but there are also some issues to be resolved and at this stage Gregor Townsend remains a player with The Borders," said Gilbert.The Borders face back-to-back games with one of Townsend's former clubs, Northampton Saints, in Rounds 3 and 4 of the Heineken Cup, starting with a trip to Franklin's Gardens on Saturday, 10 January.