Six Nations: Scotland v France reaction: Harry Paterson rises to the occasion

Gregor Townsend hails full-back's performance as "one of the best debuts I’ve ever seen"

Harry Paterson made a surprise debut for Scotland against France. Image: © Craig Watson -
Harry Paterson made a surprise debut for Scotland against France. Image: © Craig Watson -

GREGOR TOWNSEND has hailed Harry Paterson’s performance against France in this [Saturday] afternoon’s Six Nations round two clash at Murrayfield as “one of the best debuts I’ve ever seen”.

The 22-year-old full-back was called into the starting XV five hours before kick-off after Kyle Steyn‘s wife went into labour, and looked to the manor born, despite it being only his eighth pro start (his ninth ever pro appearance).

“To see him play like that gives us a lot of belief and confidence in him,” said Townsend. “He grew into the game as well. He knew he’d have a lot of kicks to field due to the way France play and with the weather being wet, but he just got stronger and stronger as the game went on.

Six Nations: Scotland v France reaction: “I don’t understand the rationale” – Gregor Townsend

Six Nations: Scotland v France report: heartbreak for hosts

Six Nations: Scotland v France live blog …

“It’s one of the best debuts I’ve ever seen. We were playing a top three, top four team in the world. Going up against that French backline, on a wet day at Murrayfield, he was excellent.

“I gave him a heads-up that he could be playing about 9 o’clock this morning, then confirmed it with him at 10am. To play like that was fantastic and gives us a lot of encouragement about where Harry can go over these next few years.”

Paterson’s game-time in adult rugby has been limited by injury and a scarcity of opportunities at Edinburgh, where he has been up against, among others, Darcy Graham, Duhan van der Merwe, Emiliano Boffelli and the now departed Blair Kinghorn in the capital back-three, so it was widely assumed that he was involved for the experience when initially named in Scotland’s Six Nations training squad last month.

“He’s really impressed us with how he’s played in the away games for Edinburgh this year. Especially the win over Ulster in Belfast, and Clermont as well, he really stood up,” said Townsend. “That says a lot about a player if they can stand up in those tough environments. He’s now shown he can do it at Test level.

“But Kyle Rowe deserves a mention as well. That was only his second Test start for Scotland and, like Harry, I thought he was excellent. We are building depth in the back three.

“Harry probably came into the squad thinking he’s behind Blair, behind the guys on the wing, but opportunities come sometimes when you don’t expect them. That can be due to injuries [Graham and Kinghorn are currently sidelined] or, in this case, someone’s wife expecting a baby.”

Townsend confirmed that he had considered moving Huw Jones to full-back and starting Cam Redpath in the centre, but was keen to keep continuity in midfield.

“Huw and Sione had trained with Finn all week, plus Huw hasn’t played much at full-back at club level, let alone Test level,” he explained.

“Harry has been playing 15 for our non-23 and training really well, so it became an easy decision.

“‘Both Harry and Kyle exceeded expectations. I also thought Andy Christie was really good as well when he came on.”



  • Kerr’s Borders Gin; every drop made from Scottish Borders barley, and every grain grown with 35-miles of our Hawick distillery.
  • Inspired by the travels of William Kerr, a Hawick botanist with a passion for plant-hunting, Kerr’s Gin carefully brings together the bold flavours of our herbal botanicals.
  • The Borders Distillery is proud to support this year’s Offside Line coverage for the Men’s Six Nations.
  • To find out more about Kerr’s gin and benefit from an online purchase discount of 15% on Kerr’s Gin and Kerr’s Navy Strength Gin visit and use “Strongroots” as your coupon code.   Please enjoy Kerr’s Gin Responsibly. Over 18s only. Go to for more information.

Six Nations: Scotland v France reaction: “I don’t understand the rationale” – Gregor Townsend

About David Barnes 3818 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.


  1. Terrific debut from Paterson.So if Kinghorn,Graham (and Steyn) are all fit and available in a fortnight who do we start at 14 and 15 v England???
    Much as I love Blair I’m almost tempted to keep Paterson at FB. Wing-haven’t a clue.
    Great we suddenly have strength despite in back three despite no Hogg and Ollie Smith.

    • Kinghorn starts. He has a bigger boot and a better counter attacker than Paterson is at the moment which is no knock on Paterson.

      Not 100% sure if I would bring Graham straight back in, might depend how he goes in Italy on Friday (assuming he is selected). I would be tempted to stick with Rowe on the wing even though he missed a howler of a tackle at the weekend. Steyn missed way too many tackles v Wales (missed 5 of 9) and looked indecisive of when to come in or stay wide.

  2. Fantastic debut, especially given the last minute call up. And good to see back 3 depth improving, was a bit worried about our cover there recently. Christie did well too, not that surprising really given his performances for Sarries and surely must start against England, alongside Dempsey and Darge, who proved my doubts about his match fitness totally unfounded. Line out was thankfully a whole load better, though seemed a bit shakier with Ashman throwing. Matthews really should get at least a bench spot surely?

    • There is an element of though that would consider better the very late call for a debut that doesn’t give you time to think too much about it.

  3. Very good and great news for Edinburgh too.

    I only saw good performances today, bodes well going forward. Let’s hope we can turn over England, who looked pretty ordinary v Wales.

    Wales could be in real trouble v Ireland, in Ireland next week …..

  4. The boy did really well and will definitely get more games for Scotland. I wonder if the last minute change combined with the weather resulted in the kicking tactics we saw today. The try we were awarded was a thing of beauty. I just wish we trusted our attack more.

  5. Maybe we should consider giving more game time at club level to young Scottish players!! Far two many 22-25 yr old players who are barely into double figures for games played….some barely into double figures for minutes as it goes and it’s not like the expensive imports are bringing silverwa6with them.

  6. How good was he on his debut. Very assured young talent who came in on short notice to compete against the likes of Penaud and Ramos.

    11 appearances for Super Series side Watsonians just to let the haters know, kept him in the loop while competing for his opportunities at Edinburgh.

      • He really doesn’t represent the good folk of Gala very well does he? I’d imagine they laugh at him too.

      • As the great Mark Twain once said “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and win on experience”.

        You guys stick to snide personal comments. I shall stick to the rugby. Have a good one 🙂


Leave a Reply

Please be respectful in your replies. Abusive language is automatically blocked. Your email address will not be published.