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Six Nations France v Scotland Preview

Tangled up: Grant Gilchrist in the middle of a French maul last season (Getty Images) - Rugby World
Tangled up: Grant Gilchrist in the middle of a French maul last season (Getty Images) Rugby World

All the big selection news, stats and TV details you need for the Six Nations match between France and Scotland in Paris


Six Nations France v Scotland Preview

What a difference a Six Nations fortnight makes, eh?

Predicting this could could prove as straightforward as sauced-up sidewinder. See, France have taken a big leap by promoting a cadre of fresh new talents, installing kids in important playmaker positions after taking a hammering against England in round two of the Championship. And Scotland, well they may feel like their playing squad are cursed.

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The Scots were already without John Barclay, Hamish Watson and Ryan Wilson,  Sam Skinner and WP Nel. Then Stuart Hogg and Huw Jones were made unavailable. Oh, fly-half Finn Russell fell out of contention after a concussion sustained while playing for Racing. Ah… and Josh Strauss lost his passport. But don’t worry, the No 8 is free to play now.

Some neutrals actually took to writing into the letters pages of national papers complaining about France’s contribution to the grand competition, which may be pushing it a bit far. But the French are certainly hurting. Mind you, Scotland have not won over the Channel since 1999. As lock Grant Gilchrist said ahead of the trip: “No win in Paris comes easily, as shown by our record there.”

Back on the wing: the wandering Yoann Huget (AFP/Getty Images) - Rugby World
Back on the wing: the wandering Yoann Huget (AFP/Getty Images) Rugby World

Embrace the madness of this one. France named their team two days early, with a list full of kids. Scotland’s No 8 lost his passport. Everyone is bigging up Wales playing England in the day’s other game. Anything could happen here…

What’s the big team news?

France have opted for a 19-year-old fly-half in Romain Ntamack, a 22-year-old nine in Antoine Dupont at nine and a 23-year-old full-back in Thomas Ramos is in. Yep, that’s right… they’ve picked a 15 at 15.

Welcome to a new age for France (there is still plenty of general tinkering too, though).

Racing’s Wenceslas Lauret is back, replacing  Yacouba Camara at openside. Yoann Huget – who has suffered a torrid time so far these Six Nations – is moved back to the wing from 15, while centre Gael Fickou comes off the wing and back into his own  natural habitat. Fellow centre Geoffrey Doumayrou drops out altogether. Clermont lossehead Etienne Falgoux could make a debut off the bench.

Big decisions: Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has been forced to make some changes (Getty Images) - Rugby World
Big decisions: Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has been forced to make some changes (Getty Images) Rugby World

For the visitors, Pete Horne is at fly-half, replacing Russell. Blair Kinghorn is at full-back, Nick Grigg comes into the centre and Magnus Bradbury starts on the blindside.

On the bench, Zander Fagerson comes back into the mix as tighthead cover with Alex Allan entering the fray as replacement loosehead. Newcastle flanker Gary Graham, Glasgow fly-half Adam Hastings and Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham are also replacements.

What have the coaches said?

The message from France coach Jacques Brunel has been simple: “After seeing our performance against England, Scotland must be pretty confident anyway.” He added: “We have to turn things around and show the real face of the France team.”

Scotland supremo Gregor Townsend said of Finn Russell: “It’s disappointing he played a Sunday before a Test match. That was always one of the risks of him playing in France. I’m just disappointed that the French Federation, or the Top 14, had games on Sundays, which makes it very difficult to recover from any injury in a short time. If you have a head injury it is almost impossible to play the following week.”I would certainly look at not playing on Sundays because with the HIA (head injury assessment) process that is rightly in place, if anybody is suspected of having a head injury then they go through that process and it effectively rules them out six days later.”

Up in the air: Will France address their issues with fielding kicks? (Getty Images) - Rugby World
Up in the air: Will France address their issues with fielding kicks? (Getty Images) Rugby World

Any interesting statistics?

  • France have lost ten of 13 matches under Jacques Brunel.
  • Pete Horne scored 18 points for Glasgow Warriors last weekend.
  • Since the 2016 Six Nations, Scotland have only won seven times away from home, in all competitions.
  • This is France’s 33rd different half-back combination since 2012.
  • France have only lost three times to Scotland in the 19 meetings they’ve had since 2000.
  • Scotland have won sevens breakdown turnovers so far these Six Nations.

What time does it kick off and is it on TV?

The match kicks off at 2:15pm on Saturday 23rd February at the Stade de France, Paris. It will be shown live on BBC One.There will also be live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and online. The referee is Australian Nic Berry. His assistants are Nigel Owens (Wales) and Andrew Brace (Ireland). Rowan Kitt (England) will be TMO.

What are the line-ups?

France: Thomas Ramos; Damian Penaud, Mathieu Bastareaud, Gael Fickou, Yoann Huget; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Demba Bamba, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Felix Lambey, Wenceslas Lauret, Arthur Iturria, Louis Picamoles.

Replacements: Camille Chat, Etienne Falgoux, Dorian Aldegheri, Paul Willemse, Gregory Alldritt, Baptiste Serin, Anthony Belleau, Maxime Medard.

Scotland: Blair Kinghorn; Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland; Peter Horne, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Josh Strauss.

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Alex Allan, Zander Fagerson, Ben Toolis, Gary Graham, Ali Price, Adam Hastings, Darcy Graham.