Townsend expects another 'cracking game' against France

Head coach Gregor Townsend expects another "cracking game" when Scotland host France in the Six Nations at Murrayfield on Saturday.

It will be the fourth meeting between the sides in the last year - the previous three producing an aggregate of 10 tries for each side, with France winning their two homes games in Paris and St Etienne either side of a Scottish victory at Murrayfield.

“We know them as well as any team we’ll come up against," said Townsend

“In the past we would have looked at France through Finn Russell’s experience, (scrum coach) Pieter De Villiers as an ex-France player and through my own experiences, but now all our players are very aware of what they are capable of, the game plan they like to go to and the opportunities we have.

“We’ve had some cracking games with them in the last 12 months and we’ll have to be at our best level physically, in defence and in the contact area, because they have a lot of jackalers in their team.

“We know it could be an open game, which suits the strengths of our players.”

France were dismantled by a ruthless Ireland side in Marseille in round one, and many believe the absence of inspirational captain Antoine Dupont - unavailable for the Six Nations as he prepares to represent the French Sevens side at this summer's Paris Olympics - has significantly dimished Les Bleus.

“He’s one of the best players in the world, if not the best player, so you’re going to miss him," Townsend said.

"He’s their captain, he’s very good in both defence and attack.

“His strengths suit the way they play, which is to try to play through transitions, pick and goes through the forwards and getting offloads away to the scrum half.

“He’s been a big part of their success but they have more strength in depth than any team in world rugby. At scrum half, you’ve got a quality player in (Maxime) Lucu, and on the bench (Nolann) Le Garrec has been in really good form.

“He really adds pace. Both nines they have are top quality players.”

Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend