The build up to the 6N seems to have dragged on like a tangerine-tinted perjury case. In this instance, though, the end result is not a given.
Can Scotland win in France?
If we look at the record books then the odds are against us. I was at the game last time we played in Paris. France were scrappy that day but one Ouedraogo singlehandedly destroyed our game.
There is no Szarzewski, Barcella, Baby or Heymans this time round and, significantly, no Beauxis. Ouedraogo will be there. There will be no Bastareaud (who scored two tries last year while man-handling our backline). There will be a Jauzion and a Medard, though. Paris is indeed a tough place to play.
That day, however, Scotland played pretty well and were (erm…possibly?) sunk by a forward pass from Medard to Ouedraogo for the telling try early in the second half. Unbelievably SCOTLAND SCORED that day! Evans was the one who burst in from relatively close range after a clever pass. We can actually score tries. In France…
So if we have our captain and one half of the second row pairing set in stone how will the rest of the pack set out?
With it confirmed that Beattie is playing at 8 on Friday night for the Scottish Bravehearts (A’s) the rumour doing the rounds right now is that the back row against France would be Barclay at 7, Brown at 8 and, wait for it… Nathan Hines at 6. Wow. I, for one, hope we don’t do this. Surely Vernon or even Harley, players that have been in a back row all season, would be better options?
Chances are it will be a case of ‘wait and see’ with Beattie. He could still start in France.
Yesterday, however, during a training game for the Scotland squad versus a scratch team –a collection of pros who are not involved with the A’s or the full squad, academy lads and a few club boys- the combinations attempted by Andy ‘How Do I Tease Some Tries Outta This Lot?’ Robinson were rather telling. Low was tested at loose-head. Harley was tried at second row. The back row looked like Barclay, Brown and Vernon.
Does this mean that Robbo wants Vernon at 8, or even 6? Will he have Beattie as a starter, or have Beattie and Harley on the bench as the cavalry? Who the hell partners Kellock in the boiler house?!
The training game hasn’t really answered any questions… but it is looking increasingly likely that De Luca will be at 12 for the French game. Perhaps it is a blessing that he has not played much rugby for Edinburgh this season because, as we know, he is a guy who carries one little mistake with him for an entire game. If he does something wrong early in an encounter he sometimes tries too hard for the rest of match.
Do we, then, need experience on either side of NDL? Ideally I would have Ansbro outside him and Evans on the wing, but the complexion of the team could well be different from anything we have seen before. Is this a good thing? If you are going to take risks France is the place to do it. We lost the first three games last campaign, only to come back with a draw and a win.
Let’s throw the dice early on, eh? The length of time managers in sport get is not long, so maybe we will see some devil-may-care from Robbo in Paris…