Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s dwell protection of this weekend’s first Six Nations match, between Scotland and France at Murrayfield.
Will this be the day when France lastly banish their blues within the Scottish capital? 2014 was the final time that Les Bleus conquered the thistle at Murrayfield in a Six Nations match. On that day, the likes of Thomas Domingo, Nicolas Mas and Jim Hamilton had been among the many names on the beginning teamsheets.
It felt as if the hoodoo would lastly be damaged two years in the past, in 2020, the match when France’s Nouvelle Obscure, beneath new head coach Fabien Galthie, sprung into life. However a second of insanity from French tighthead Mohamed Haouas – not in right this moment’s squad, fortunately – when he determined to sock Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie sq. within the chops in entrance of 67,000 rabid Scots, value France that day. It additionally, in the end, value them the match. A win right this moment would take them one step additional to exorcising these 2020 demons – and in the direction of a primary championship win since 2010.
Fabien Galthie’s aspect did, after all, edge a detailed recreation on Scottish soil within the (appalling) Autumn Nations Cup in 2020, however in northern hemisphere’s showpiece, there was an eight-year barren interval.
Scotland come into this fixture on the again of a seismic win in opposition to France in Paris final yr, too. And, if ever a single recreation outlined all that’s good in a participant, it was Chris Harris’ efficiency in that 2021 match on the Stade de France. With Scotland hanging on by their fingertips after dropping captain Stuart Hogg to the sin-bin and playmaker Finn Russell to the early tub, the skin centre’s contribution was not solely immense, it was probably match-winning, as Richard Tub writes.
In addition to main the sort out stats amongst Scotland’s backs, two good reads in conditions when France had males over and appeared sure to attain earlier than Harris stepped in to take man and ball – one on French captain Gregor Alldritt, the opposite on Virimi Vakatawa – allowed Scotland to remain within the hunt and snatch a late win. It was arguably additionally the efficiency which catapulted the Cumbrian into the British and Irish Lions touring celebration to South Africa.
“With France, they do play rather a lot and have some actual attacking threats,” he mentioned, “so the defensive aspect of my recreation comes into it there. It’s a problem however one I look ahead to, so there’s most likely a component of that.”
“It’s about being conscious of their threats and if that’s the offload we’ve obtained to be alive to it,” he mentioned. “In the end, we’ve obtained to verify we’re dominant with our collisions to negate that offload risk.”