Scotland v France: Townsend rings the changes for visit of Les Bleus

Five new faces in the starting XV and three more players - including Duncan Taylor - added to the bench

Fraser Brown returns to the starting XV to play France. Image: © Craig Watson -
Fraser Brown returns to the starting XV to play France. Image: © Craig Watson -

SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend has made five changes to the starting XV and brought three new faces onto the bench, ahead of Saturday’s visit to Murrayfield by France.

An ankle injury to Rory Sutherland meant Townsend had to promote Oli Kebble into the starting side in an all-new front row, with Jamie Bhatti elevated to the bench despite having only two matches and 25 minutes of competitive rugby under his belt since the end of lockdown.

Fraser Brown has recovered from the head knock which kept him out against Italy last week and starts as vice-captain at hooker ahead of Stuart McInally, who drops out the squad altogether.

And Simon Berghan comes back into the squad to start at tight-head with Zander Fagerson dropping to the bench, and WP Nel missing out.

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With Jamie Ritchie having also recovered from the head knock that he picked up against Italy, the only other change in the pack is at No8, where Matt Fagerson replaces Blade Thomson, who in turn nudges Nick Haining off the bench.

Behind the scrum, Blair Kinghorn replaces Edinburgh club-mate Darcy Graham on the left wing. The rest of the backline is retained from the Italy game, although Saracens duo Duncan Taylor – who was never officially been named in the training squad – and Sean Maitland will cover numbers 11 through to 15 from the bench..

“France are full of confidence and have played really well this year,” said Townsend. “We know we’re playing one of the best teams in the world right now, so to rise to this challenge we’re going to have to play close to our best throughout the contest on Sunday.”

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“It’s great to have Fraser, Jamie and Matt recover from their recent injuries, and we are delighted to also involve Jamie, Duncan and Sean in a match-day squad for the first time this season,” he added.

“The Autumn Nations Cup is all about opportunity – the opportunity to play in a new competition and the opportunity for us as coaches to see how a large number of our squad perform when given the chance to play.”

Scotland (v France at Murrayfield, Sunday @ 3.15pm GMT): S Hogg©;  B Kinghorn, C Harris, S Johnson, D van der Merwe; D Weir, A Price; O Kebble, F Brown (VC), S Berghan, S Cummings, J Gray, J Ritchie (VC), H Watson, M Fagerson. Substitutes: G Turner, J Bhatti, Z Fagerson, S Skinner B Thomson, S Hidalgo-Clyne, D Taylor, S Maitland.

France: T Ramos; T Thomas, V Vakatawa, G Fickou, V Rattez; M Jalibert, A  Dupont; J Gros, C Chat, D Bamba, B Le Roux, R Taofifenua, D Cretin, C Ollivon©, G Alldritt. Substitues: J Marchand, C Baille, M Haouas, P Willemse, C Woki, B Couilloud, L Carbonel, A Vincent.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 2051 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Darcy looked like he was being held together with tape by the end of the last game, so if he’s not injured I guess he’s being given a bit of a rest.

  2. I have doubts about this line-up. For Darcy Graham and Stuart McInally not even to be on the bench, let alone George Horne (hopefully the toe thing is the reason) seems odd. Kinghorn seems to be more ready to back himself these days, so we’ll see. McInally has looked on form the last few outings and Fraser Brown’s throwing and discipline hasn’t been great. Surprised to see Duncan Taylor make a re-appearance. Is there such a thing as too much depth to a squad?

  3. Well my suggestion that Harris wasn’t up to it didn’t go down all that well after the previous two outings, but I doubt if I will find much to change my mind after the France fixture, that said I hope I have to eat humble pie when he scores the winning try: providing he doesn’t knock on, again.

  4. That’s a pretty good French team, without the crowd it just got tougher.
    Interesting to see the front row changes, and SHC keeping his place on their bench. Still not sure about Kinghorn at either 15 or the wing. Interesting Maitland back again and Taylor, who Mark MaCall reckons is one of Saracens best players. Still wish we had a big aggressive bruiser at no8.
    Should be a good game weather permitting, for Scotland a win will be HUGE.

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