France v Scotland: Harris, Russell, Price and Turner return for trip to Paris

Gregor Townsend has made four personnel and one positional change to the side which started against Italy last weekend

Ali Price (centre) returns to the starting XV while Huw Jones (left) drops to the bench. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Ali Price (centre) returns to the starting XV while Huw Jones (left) drops to the bench. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GREGOR TOWNSEND has made for personnel and one positional change for Scotland’s final Six Nations match against France in Paris on Friday evening [kick-off 8pm GMT]. 

Finn Russell returns after a concussion to start at stand-off with captain Stuart Hogg reverting to his usual full-back slot, which is vacant because Sean Maitland has not been released by English club rugby to play in the match.

Ali Price returns to the starting XV at scrum-half with Scott Steele dropping to the bench, and Chris Harris gets the nod ahead of Huw Jones at outside centre.


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The only change to the pack which started against Italy last weekend is at hooker, with George Turner returning to the starting XV and Dave Cherry dropping to the bench.

Adam Hastings gets the nod ahead of Jaco van Der Walt on the bench, while Oli Kebble comes back into the match day squad as loose-head replacement because Jamie Bhatti has also not been released by the English clubs.

“The match against France provides us with an opportunity to finish the Six Nations in our highest position in its history,” said Townsend. “This is a great opportunity for us to take on France, at home in Paris, as they also look to end the championship on a high.

“Both teams have needed to manage a short six-day turnaround and we have used this week to regroup and focus on putting in our best performance of the competition so far, which we will need to deliver if we are to leave Paris with a victory.

“As a group we have faced several challenges throughout this Six Nations, it has brought us closer together, and I know the players are motivated and looking forward to representing their country again on Friday night.”

Scotland (v France on Friday, at Stade de France, kick-off 8pm GMT): S Hogg©; D Graham, C Harris, S Johnson, D van der Merwe; F Russell, A Price; R Sutherland, G Turner, Z Fagerson, S Skinner, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie, H Watson, M Fagerson. Substitutes: D Cherry, O Kebble, S Berghan, A Craig, N Haining, S Steele, A Hastings, H Jones.

France: B Dulin; D Penaud, V Vakatawa, A Vincent, G Fickou; R Ntamack, A Dupont; C Baille, J Marchand, M Haouas, B Le Roux, S Rebbadj, A Jelonch, G Alldritt, C Ollivon©. Subs: C Chat, J Gros, U Atonio, R Taofifenau, D Cretin, B Serin, A Bouthier, T Thomas.


France v Scotland: Finn Russell ready to put everything on the line in Paris

 

About David Barnes 3033 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

26 Comments

  1. Players not selected

    Sean Maitland – Blair Kinghorn – Cameron Redpath – Matt Scott – Rufus McClean – Jaco Van Der Valt – Sam Hidalgo Clyne – Blade Thomson – Tom Gordon – Ryan Wilson – Jonny Gray – Scott Cummings – Willem Nel – Fraser Brown – Jamie Bhatti

    Byron Mcguigan – Rory Hutchison – George Horne – Gary Graham – Richie Gray – Murray McCallum – Stuart Mcinally – Allan Dell

    Not a bad second string 23

  2. I know its rubbish how Scotland has been shafted with the restrictions on England based players but we need to remember that we have Zander Fagerson back for this and he would have missed the original game.

  3. If we win Gregor is the man if we lose or lose badly he will get more flak than a B17 Raid over Germany. Think I might have stuck with Cherry he did well ,but I still think Turner is a better player we will see. As for Jones vs Harris the defense argument has been laid to rest by Mr Gray in the post above and in attack it’s Jones by a mile.
    The thing that the French always were criticized for, running out of steam in the last 20, was a ghost very firmly laid to rest last weekend, they took Wales apart in the last 20 even down a man. We won at Twickers for the first time in a long time , lets hope we can repeat it in Paris.

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    • It doesn’t really Al, most of Jones’game time has been vs Italy. Don’t get me wrong though, big Jones fan and I do think Toony overrates Harris but it’s horses for courses. Jones is infintitely better in attack but his defence is not as good as Harris’. Own preference would’ve been Taylor at O/C but his status seems to be a mystery.

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  4. I hope we will watch an exciting game.
    I don’t think the french will be tired in the last 20, they’ve got an amazing bench.

  5. It’s a shame we didn’t see more of Cam Redpath, he looks a real Rolls-Royce of a player and all we hear from ex-players about him is good. I would feel more confident with Huw Jones against France away at O/C were Redpath or Duncan Taylor at inside, both have gas to cover. It’s a game for cool heads and our Sarries pair are exactly that with their all-court games. The player cap is absurd. Not sure what the craic is with Taylor – form, fitness (?) – but i’d feel more confident with him at outside. Plus he’s a much better player than Harris. Steve Tandy must be influencing Harris’ inclusion too lest we forget.

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  6. I don’t understand how anyone can look at this team and be optimistic.
    How would you expect the line out going with Turner back and just two jumpers again?
    From re-selecting Ritchie and Matt Fagerson after Ireland (and Wales), how would you expect the breakdown to go (it’s all on Watson, again)?
    How many breaks, offloads, efficient tactical kicks from hand and slick distribution would you expect to see from Johnson and Harris?
    Considering his Six Nations history, what sort of games do you expect from Ali Price?

    The first thing that came to mind seeing this team was Townsend’s apocalyptic selection in the World Cup opener against Ireland. There is no scoring potential in this Scotland side whatsoever outside of Russell creating something magical that bypasses both centres, and outsmarts Penaud, Fickou and Dulin – I consider that unlikely.

    Folk saying that Townsend’s plan is to go rope-a-dope for a half are certainly drinking the Kool Aid. After Scotland let Wales and Ireland walk in points and control the set piece, do we really think a ‘defence first’ plan will pay dividends in Paris? They have Dupont, Ntamack, Vakatawa, Fickou and Penaud there!

    Another shocker of a selection, and another incoherent strategy.

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  7. Dead easy to look good Saturday under no pressure, but Friday will be a different kettle of fish. Some of us may have selected differently but if that selection was based mainly on form shown v Italy then its flawed. Couple of judgement calls in there but talk of favourites over form etc is just silly.

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  8. GT always manages to exasperate me…. Cherry was excellent last week, Jones is on fire. Playing 2 solid but slow (in the grand scheme of things) centres only allows France to double/treble up on Hogg and VDM…..will we beat France by playing conservatively/defensively?????
    Back row incumbents too similar needs beef, no-one to make the hard physical yards.

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    • Rubbish. Harris may not be everybody’s cup of tea but he certainly doesn’t lack pace. He might not be a Johnny May or a Rees-Zammit but there again few are. For the record I’d prefer Huw Jones, as he looks really sharp again but I see no reason to have a pop at a fine player just because he’s not my choice.

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  9. I had a look at the French side and they are going to come at us hard in the first 40. So I am thinking, and I could be wrong, that Toony is thinking of letting the French knock the bollocks out of themselves in the first half trying to get that 20 point gap secured early.

    Then rinse our bench from 55 onwards and look to hit them with a faster pace in the last 20. But again the French bench are no slouches.

    This game plan depends on France folding in the 2nd half, which I doubt will happen. If there is one thing about the French you can guarantee is they will turn up in spades for this contest. The other issue is the pressure they put on us and the penalty count that has a potential to raise its ugly head for us again as a result.

    I sincerely hope it works. But the sceptic in me says we are in for a shoeing. I’ll be delighted to eat my words with a big huge round of humble pie to finish it off.

    My big regret is we don’t have Maitland in the backs. He would be ideal for this contest. But again that’s just the BS of modern, commercial rugby at play.

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  10. Typical Toonie – Another couple of selection howlers at a critical juncture. Must be so gutting to play so well and and up sotting on the bench.

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  11. Another couple of selection howlers at a critical juncture. Must be so gutting to play so well and and up sotting on the bench.

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  12. On reflection I’m actually even more annoyed at Cherry being dropped than Jones. Townsend demonstrating once again that favouritism trumps form. It’s no wonder he has a long history of falling out with players.

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  13. I was a bit exasperated at first around Jones’ omission but on reflection, think what he would likely be up against in Vakatawa. Vakatawa is an extremely powerful runner and for me, Jones’ defence is suspect. Any who have played will tell you chasing someone down to tackle from behind (tackler’s weight pulls attacker down) is far easier than tackling head on and Jones is not the bravest of defenders. Hogg is similar in this respect and Kinghorn (unless he has improved on this score) is worst of all in any potential Scotland back division. There is an argument for best form of defence being attack but we still have Russell and a fast back three to exploit openings.

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  14. Jones is a wonderful attacking talent but it makes sense to have the bigger more defensive Harris up against Vakarawa for the first 50 and then unleash Jones later in the game when he can exploit gaps. Team is the best it can be

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    • The stats show Jones to be the better defender in this Six Nations so far.

      Jones has 13 completed tackles in 124mins, one dominant tackle and zero missed. Harris has 17 completed tackles in 229 minutes, 2 tackles missed, zero dominant tackles.

      The offensive stats as you would expect way heavily in Jones’ favour.

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      • Doug – Harris’ line speed is excellent, so no surprise if he’s making fewer tackles per minute played i.e. could demonstrate that he’s shutting down the 13 channel as an option and the ball is never making it past 10/12. Also by all accounts he’s very vocal and the main defensive organiser in the backs, which is hard to quantify by any stat. Jones and Bennett are both clearly improving defensively, but Harris remains a quality option too.

  15. Jones was a stand out against Italy. His omission is strange and points towards a more defensive minded approach. We’ve nothing to lose and I can’t understand why we’re not going there to rip it up, invoking the spirit of 99.

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    • France (needing a big victory) will presumably come out all guns blazing at us. I’d prefer Harris helps deal with that, with Jones to come on later when the French hopefully tire.

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      • Where does this myth on Harris’s defence come from? Can you point to devastating examples of his defence against Wales and Ireland? Or in November, against Ireland and France? If Harris was anything like the player the Scottish press make him out to be, he would be a shoo in for the Lions given the absence of quality outside centres. As it is, Harris won’t even be on the third reserve list.

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  16. So we fixed the lineout vs Italy and the attack finally looked dangerous. Also no silly penalties or charged down box kicks at 9.. and now for france…we bring in the hooker from the messed up lineout, remove a very dangerous attacking player and bring in a 9 lacking in confidence and as a result mistake prone – can I ask why?

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    • On reflection I’m actually even more annoyed at Cherry being dropped than Jones. Townsend demonstrating once again that favouritism trumps form. It’s no wonder he has a long history of falling out with players.

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