Six Nations: Grant Gilchrist believes Cardiff disappointment will fuel Scotland for France clash

The Edinburgh lock is eager to return to action after serving a one-game ban

Grant Gilchrist in training ahead of Scotland's Guinness Six Nations game against France © Craig Watson

GRANT GILCHRIST saw his team-mates’ deflated reaction to Scotland’s long-awaited victory against Wales in Cardiff and reckoned it was the best outcome possible.

The Edinburgh lock watched the Guinness Six Nations opener from home as he served a one-game suspension, an experience that went from nice and chilled as Gregor Townsend’s side raced into a 27-0 lead to a somewhat more uncomfortable 30 minutes as Wales closed the gap to a single point and threatened to snatch victory from their visitors’ grasp.

That the eventual outcome was a first Scotland victory in the Welsh capital since 2002 was almost lost on captain Finn Russell and the rest of the players as they delivered honest and critical analysis of their second-half performance, frowns rather than smiles on their faces.

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As he prepares to rejoin the matchday squad for this weekend’s home game with France, Gilchrist feels it leaves Scotland with the best of both worlds. Had the team thrashed Wales out of sight as they threatened to do in the first half, it may have left them in danger of becoming complacent or having to temper rising expectation. Instead he has rejoined a group ready to learn from that chastening second-half display but doing so from a winning position.

“Winning at this level is tough,” said Gilchrist. “And I don’t think that it’s a bad thing that we’re ambitious enough to want to put a complete performance out there. To win in the first game of the Six Nations is massive as you need to keep trying to build momentum throughout the tournament and winning ensures you can still do that.

“But having that little slant of disappointment is also no bad thing. It brought us in on Monday eager to learn how to get better in the second half and put a full performance together rather than coming in talking about staying grounded or any of these things. I felt it’s not a bad place to be, to feel a little bit disappointed despite winning in Cardiff for the first time in 22 years.”

If it was a nail-biting denouement for every Scot inside the Principality Stadium on Saturday, it was no less manic for Gilchrist back at home as he tried to follow the closing stages on television while also dealing with his two troublesome toddlers.

“The first 50 minutes were as comfortable sitting on my couch watching a game of rugby as I’ve been in my life,” he revealed. “I absolutely loved watching that. And then that back half hour coincided with bedtime madness in my house which was stressful in both parts!

“I was trying to keep a three year-old and a two year-old boy from fighting at the same time as panicking about what was happening on the pitch and what the result was going to be. It all ended well with the result but I’ve had easier watches.”

Gilchrist’s availability is timely given the bicep injury sustained by Richie Gray that will sideline the Glasgow second-rower for the rest of the championship. France are also wounded as they arrive in Scotland, an opening day loss at home to Ireland leaving them in desperate need of a victory this weekend.

“I always love watching the French team but they were well beaten for what seemed like the first time in a long time,” added Gilchrist. “The way they played at the World Cup and the last Six Nations, they certainly struggled to get that game going. Ireland are obviously up there with the best teams in the world, and the way they suffocate teams when they’re in that form makes it difficult to play.

“But I expect France to be a much better version of themselves this weekend, because they know they need to win. And we know through watching them how much more they’ve got in them.

“When you look around now, most forward packs are pretty tasty, but I think the French are always powerful. And the style that they play, they’re going to come at you with that pick-and-go game, they’re going to be confrontational with their maul and their scrum.

“Their game plan demands a forward pack to perform. If you can’t get a foothold up front against a French team you’re going to struggle to win the game – or you won’t win the game.

“It will be up to us to be much better than we were. That’s what happens in these tournaments – you have to be better week on week, because everybody just grows and gets better as they go.”

About Graeme Macpherson 25 Articles
Graeme Macpherson is a freelance sports writer who covers rugby for a number of outlets.


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