Six Nations: Scotland v France live blog …

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France celebrate their win over Scotland at Murrayfield. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
France celebrate their win over Scotland at Murrayfield. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

That’s all from the live blog this week. Thanks for reading. 


  • 5.25pm

Gregor Townsend:

On the non-try:

“We were celebrating in the coaches’ box having seen the pictures of the ball being placed down on the try line after having been on the player’s boot. That was also after hearing the communication to the referee from the TMO to say that the ball started on the foot and then went on the ground.

“The ref then says, ‘I can also see that on the ground’ then their last interaction was ‘Hang on, let’s look at that other angle . . .  Yeah, it’s inconclusive now, stick with your on-field decision’.

“It was TMO-driven. If the referee is seeing the pictures we were all seeing in the stadium, maybe it’s on his shoulder as well to say, ‘That’s the ball down, that’s a try’. But the TMO was the one who changed his mind and said, ‘Stick with your on-field decision’.

“I don’t understand the rationale. When you see the pictures, and when you also see the conversation, they have already said between them that the ball has been placed on the try line.”

On Harry Paterson:

“One of the best debuts I’ve ever seen. I gave him a heads-up at 9am, confirmed it at 10 that he was starting.

“I think he grew in the game too. He knew he’d have a lot of kicks to field and he just got stronger and stronger.”


  • 5.15pm

Co-captain Rory Darge is asked about the non-try. “We’re gutted, because Skinzo [Sam Skinner] feels like he’s got it. But the decision was no try.

“I thought it was down, but it didn’t matter what I think.

“His [Berry’s] on-field decision is no try. He was saying he has to be more convinced than he was from the pictures. I’ve not had anything like that in a game where it takes so long.”




  • 4.45pm

The post-match press conferences get under way. French captain Gregory Alldritt says he is OK following the injury that ended his involvement in the game, and says: “This is one of the most beautiful victories for the French team. I’m really happy.”

Alldritt adds that for him it was definitely not a try, but it was not his decision to make.


  • 4.40pm

That has to go down as one of the most agonising defeats Scotland have suffered in recent years. Social media is now full of photos showing the ball was grounded in that last-gasp bid for glory, but Nic Berry’s initial on-field ruling was no try and in the end, after three or four minutes of deliberations, he stuck by it.

“There is no conclusive evidence to overturn my original decision”, he said.

Finn Russell opines otherwise in his interviewee with the BBC. “France came out the winning side tonight, but for me that was a try at the end,” the captain says. “That’s not for me to decide, that’s up to the referee. That’s why he has the job.

“We’ve got to take this defeat on the chin and get better for England. We can’t let the referee decide what happens in a game: that’s up to us to play better and make these matches a victory.


Jack Dempsey at the full-time whistle. Image: © Craig Watson -www.craigwatson.co.uk
Agony for Jack Dempsey at the full-time whistle. Image: © Craig Watson – www.craigwatson.co.uk

Full-time:

Scotland 16 France 20

Scotland dominated large chunks of this game, while France committed numerous errors. In the end, though, the visitors just sneaked the win. And for the second match running, Scotland were denied a try in the last play of the game. Unlike in Cardiff, though, this one also denied them the win.


  • 79 minutes

Kyle Rowe makes a great break, turning the cover defence inside out, but he is tackled and then knocks on while trying to regather. France lose possession from their own scrum and Scotland launch a last-ditch assault on their line. Was the ball grounded over the line? The TMO intervenes.

After an agonising wait, the ruling is no try. And that’s the game.


  • 77 minutes

Scotland concede a penalty 15m or so out and Ramos notches another three points. They have three minutes in which to conjure up a try to win the game.

Scotland 16 France 20


  • 74 minutes

Sam Skinner is on at lock for Grant Gilchrist. This game looks like it is slipping away from Scotland – or will they be able to fight their way back into the position to claim the winning score?


  • 70 minutes

Louis Bielle-Biarrey scores from his own kick to the left corner off the back of a French scrum. Ramos adds the conversion from wide on the left and France lead for the first time. Alec Hepburn replaces Pierre Schoeman for his first home start.

Scotland 16 France 17


  • 68 minutes

A curious waiting game develops as both sides keep kicking for position. Ashman is back on for Turner. Scotland are still deserving of their lead, but it really should be a dozen points or more by now rather than just the six.


  • 63 minutes

Russell launches a speculative drop-goal attempt from 40m or so out. It falls just short and wide, but the pressure is back on France.


  • 57 minutes

Scotland have a penalty in front of the French posts, and Finn Russell makes no mistake. First score of the second half.

Scotland 16 France 10


  • 51 minutes

French captain Gregory Alldritt has to be taken off after landing awkwardly in a ruck. Paul Boudehent replaces him, while France have also changed their scrum-halves. Charles Ollivon takes over the captaincy duties.


  • 50 minutes

Ben White thinks he’s got a hand to the ball in the French in-goal, but the decision is knock-on and a drop-out for the visitors. Another chance goes begging, but Scotland still have that three-point lead and have looked the likelier side to score again in these opening stages of the second half.


  • 48 minutes

Atonio is out of the sinbin, and France have taken off both second rows and their hooker. Julien Marchand comes into the front row, and Posolo Tuilagi and debutant Alexandre Roumat are the new locks.


It’s tense here at Murrayfield and Lochie the mascot can’t bear to watch.

  • 41 minutes

One substitution for the start of the second half: Andy Christie is on for Matt Fagerson in the home back row. The Saracens forward has been in excellent form for his club, impressing Gregor Townsend with his versatility, among other qualities.

“I think it’s great he can play all three [back-row positions],” the coach said after announcing his matchday 23 on Thursday. “He’s developed into a lineout forward as well. He’s stolen a few balls for Saracens, but he’s a real good go-to man as a third lineout player.

“So that means he can come on and play 6 or 8 and be a lineout forward. He can play 7 – that was his position of origin. And he’s used to coming off the bench, although not so much this year, because he’s been starting for Saracens. But for a number of seasons he thrived in that role of bringing energy and covering any of those three positions.”


  • Half-time:

Scotland 13 France 10


  • 36 minutes

Some dynamic carries by the big men take Scotland deep into the French 22. Grant Gilchrist is halted just short and the referee penalises France. Scotland tap but fail to capitalise, and Uini Atonio is sent to the bin for cynical play at the bottom of a ruck and the decision will be assessed in the bunker. Replacement tighthead Dorian Aldegheri is on and winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey is sacrificed. The sustained period of pressure ends the half with the score still 13-10.


  • Please enjoy Kerr’s Gin Responsibly. Over 18s only. Go to drinkaware.co.uk for more information.

  • 31 minutes

That double-digits advantage barely lasts two minutes, as Gael Fickou touches down almost unopposed in the right corner for France’s first try of the afternoon. Ramos adds the conversion.

Scotland 13 France 10


  • 29 minutes

Another penalty from Russell, again from in front of the posts, stretches the lead to 10 points. Meanwhile, Turner has passed his HIA and is back on the field.

Scotland 13 France 3


  • 21 minutes

Ben White has the ball down and thinks he’s got his second try from a very quick tap pen, but it’s too quick for the ref’s liking and play is called back. Finn Russell opts to go for the posts from right in front of them, and stretches Scotland’s lead back to seven points.

Scotland 10 France 3


  • 18 minutes

First replacement of the day by either team sees George Turner come off for an HIA.  Ewan Ashman takes over at hooker.


  • 15 minutes

Brilliant break by Gael Fickou sees the French centre get to within 5 metres of the Scotland line before being hauled to the ground by Duhan van der Merwe, who gathers then clears upfield. French complaints about a high tackle cut no ice with referee Nic Berry.


  • 12 minutes

France apply some pressure and win a penalty, from which full-back Thomas Ramos gets them off the mark.

Scotland 7 France 3


Ben White celebrates scoring the first points of the day. Image: Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Ben White celebrates scoring the first points of the day. Image: Craig Watson – www.craigwatson.co.uk

  • 7 minutes 

First blood to Scotland. Harry Paterson carries into the French 22 after coming intgo the line, Huw Jones takes it on, and Ben White finishes off despite the attentions of a couple of defenders. Finn Rusell converts.

Scotland 7 France 0.


  • 5 minutes

A decent start by both teams, with some intelligent kicking. Play stops for treatment to Huw Jones, but the centre is able to resume.


  • 1st minute

Finn Russell kicks off and the match is under way.


  • 2.05pm

Finalised team line-ups: no further alterations to the Scotland team after the late introduction of Harry Paterson, and no changes to the line-up announced by France on Thursday.

Scotland: H Paterson; K Rowe, H Jones, S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; F Russell (c), B White; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, G Gilchrist, S Cummings, M Fagerson, R Darge, J Dempsey. Substitutes: E Ashman, A Hepburn, E Millar-Mills, S Skinner, A Christie, G Horne, B Healy, C Redpath.

France: T Ramos; D Penaud, G Fickou, J Danty, L Bielle-Biarrey; M Jalibert, M Lucu; C Baille, P Mauvaka, U Antonio, C Woki, P Gabrillagues, F Cros, C Ollivon, G Alldritt. Substitutes: J Marchand, S Taofifenua, D Aldegheri, P Tuilagi, A Roumat, P Boudehent, N Le Garrec, Y Moefana.


  • 1.59pm

And here’s Flower of Scotland, as sung before last year’s home game against France.


  • 1.55pm

It’s almost time for the anthems. Here’s our favourite rendition of La Marseillaise, from Casablanca (1942).


  • 1.39pm

Harry Paterson is on the field and warming up ahead of his debut.

Harry P
Image: Craig Watson.

  • 1.10pm

Is it just us or are there more French fans here than ever before? It was the same last night at the under-20s. And curiously,  a lot of them, last night and on the tram to Murrayfield today, kept saying “Brian is in the kitchen”. Presumably it’s something they learned from an English book at school, but any confirmation will be gratefully received.

Fans
Some coqs sportifs en route to Murrayfield.

  • 12.54p

Edinburgh coach Sean Everitt holds Harry Paterson in high regard. “He’s done extremely well,” Everitt said after the 22-year-old was called into the Scotland squad last month. “You can see he’s full of rugby. Every time he has put the jersey on this year he’s done exceptionally well. He was pretty much outstanding in the Ulster game away, and then on the weekend he had some really strong carries on the wing.

“He’s good under the high ball and he’s got a good kicking game. He’s a valuable player to us in a team where we’ve got a talented back three, and I’m sure he’s learning a lot from the international experience that we have there.”


The streets of Edinburgh hot-up. Photo courtesy Johanne Simpson
The streets of Edinburgh hot-up. Photo courtesy Johanne Simpson

  • 12.45p

Confirmation of a late change to the Scotland team. Kyle Steyn is out as his wife has gone into labour, so Kyle Rowe moves from full-back to the right wing and Edinburgh’s Harry Paterson comes in for his debut at 15.


  • Saturday 11.10am 

Just over three hours to go now. Here’s more from head coach Townsend on France, who Scotland played three times last year – once in the Six Nations and twice in World Cup warm-ups:

“We know them as well as any team we’ll come up against. In the past we would have looked at France through Finn’s experience, 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 jacklers in their team. We know it could be an open game, which suits the strengths of our players.”


  • Saturday 10.15am

With four hours to go before kick-off, here’s a reminder of what Gregor Townsend expects from the

French today in the wake of their 38-17 home defeat by Ireland last weekend:

“They were up against a really good Irish team and they were down a man for the majority of the game. When you play the top teams in the world with a man down, it’s going to be really tough.

“Ireland looked very cohesive. That game that has produced so many victories for them, they were able to deliver it in a tough environment against a physical French side.

“From the French perspective, they know they didn’t play their best rugby – so I would imagine we’ll get a reaction from that. They came back at one stage even with 14 on the field, but we know that with 15 on the field they are a quality team, still a top-three, top-four team in the world.”


  •  Friday: 9.49pm

Full-time at Hive Stadium. Second half rally earns Scotland two tries and they end up going down 14-29 to a strong French side.

Match report HERE.


Image: Craig Watson
  • Friday 8.49pm

Half-time at Scotland Under-20s v France Under-20s, with the visitors leading 26-0.


  • Friday: 7.48pm

PRIZE DRAW

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To get their sponsorship underway, the team at Borders Distillery have not one but two offers for you.

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    • All you need to do is answer this simple question: ‘In which town in the Borders is Kerr’s Gin made?’
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    • A name will be selected at random and the winner will be contacted by email the following week.
  • Second up, the team at Kerr’s Borders Gin are offering you a 15% discount on an online purchase of their Kerr’s Gin AND Kerr’s Navy Strength Gin throughout the Men’s Six Nations – simply visit the distillery’s home page by clicking HERE and use discount code “Strongroots” for the discount to be automatically applied.

Please enjoy Kerr’s Gin Responsibly. Over 18s only. Go to drinkaware.co.uk for more information.


  • Friday: 12.02pm

Scotland co-captain Rory Darge, returning from a knee injury, has completed his eve of match press duties.

“We focus on our own mindset and not too much on what the French mindset might be. There’s a bit of guesswork in that and I don’t know how beneficial it would be for us.

“The big one we’ve been talking about in terms of mindset is about being in every moment, [and] starting well.”


  • Thursday: 10pm

Gregor Townsend says the door remains open for Jamie Ritchie to return to Scotland match-day squad during this Six Nations [read HERE] and that his team will benefit from having survived a freakish penalty count against them in Cardiff last Saturday [read HERE].


  • Thursday: 1.14pm

Teams are out, with Scotland making three changes to their pack – two enforced by injuries to Richie Gray and Luke Crosbie, while recently deposed captain Jamie Ritchie is dropped from the squad altogether.

France make two changes with Cameron Woki added to the second-row and Louis Bielle-Biarrey coming in on the wing.

Scotland: K Rowe; K Steyn, H Jones, S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; F Russell (c), B White; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, G Gilchrist, S Cummings, M Fagerson, R Darge, J Dempsey. Substitutes: E Ashman, A Hepburn, E Millar-Mills, S Skinner, A Christie, G Horne, B Healy, C Redpath.

France: T Ramos; D Penaud, G Fickou, J Danty, L Bielle-Biarrey; M Jalibert, M Lucu; C Baille, P Mauvaka, U Antonio, C Woki, P Gabrillagues, F Cros, C Ollivon, G Alldritt. Substitutes: J Marchand, S Taofifenua, D Aldegheri, P Tuilagi, A Roumat, P Boudehent, N Le Garrec, Y Moefana.


Six Nations: Scotland v France: door is not closed on Jamie Ritchie

About Stuart Bathgate 1438 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

19 Comments

  1. Lothian and Border Police are investigating a theft of 4 points from the Scottish Rugby Team. A spokesman for the Team said One minute the Ref and TMO said it was there, then it was stolen.

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  2. Do you remember 3 seasons ago when the French fullback did something really daft in the 82nd minute that basically let Duhan score a winner?

    Can’t remember exactly what he did but do remember thinking ‘did he (the French fullback) really just do that?’

    Swings n roundabouts I guess.

    That’s what I’ll tell myself.
    Before having a wee cry.

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  3. Awful decision at the end but kinda feel we bottled it. Let a 7-0 lead slip v a team who looked shaky.

    Started playing kick tennis.

    This is 2 games in a row where for whatever reason we’ve taken our foot off the gas.

    A team like Ireland just would not do that. That’s the difference.

    I don’t know if we have it in us to learn. I assume we do.

  4. Can’t believe we were undone by the tmo, massive decision and quite wrong. Very upset for the guys.

    Very good performance and worthy winners. Even enjoyed the tension created by the kick tennis…

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    • Scandalous there’s a still pic on social media shows it was clearly grounded. As soon as they started saying they would award try there was an abrupt change of mind…. someone with a word in ear? Either way it’s scandalous following on from the corrupt reffing at RWC. We are effectively match fixing nowadays. This just doesn’t happen in rugby league.

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      • The ref said it was grounded. Irish TMO made the final change of mind. Didn’t want another team on grand slam path?
        It is a ridiculous amount of power given to a man in a van looking at screens. With something like that why wasn’t the scrum awarded to Scotland, the rule should be changed there. Ref couldn’t wait to blow his whistle.

  5. The ref stole another game from us. He was very short with Scotland advantage plays compared to France’s.

    The biggest issue I have is that we will probably let it get to us.

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  6. 1st half: Positives – Paterson taking to international rugby well. Lineouts (attack and defence).
    Slight negative: Not converting before half-time, or taking the 3.. but a yellow so not all bad, slightly caught out for Fickous try but it was a wonderful pass by Jalibert.

  7. Unlike Toonie to roll that dice. Thought that Shuggie would have been a better bet to start at 15 and start Redpath at 12…

    Configurations to Paterson in his first cap and Best Of Luck!

    • Nope, Steyn has had to pull out as his wife has gone into labour. Rowe moved to wing and Patterson in at full back.

  8. So, played too much rugby against Wales and not enough against France. Is he saying they disobeyed their instructions ? Isaac Coates by all accounts is a natural talent so it’s a pity his kicking was poor tonight. Surely repeatedly biting off too much on touch finders should be a simple coaching fix. Do the U20s even have a kicking coach ?

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  9. The fact that we have a competitive pack against the world champions when we are in the tier below them for the summer tournament must show that the Super 6 and the Futures team is worth pursuing – we usually get beaten up at this level but our pack was on par against huge French opposition.

    Don’t beat the laddie up on the kicks to touch, that is a simple thing to improve on with coaching.

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  10. Watched most of the U20 match, a bit overwhelmed in the first half, but second was very competitive, definitely signs of improvement from last year

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    • Under 20 s
      Need a change at Stand Off .
      Have to be brutal .
      Kicks have to find touch at this level

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