Scotland v France, Autumn Nations Cup 2020: Match Preview pt II – head to heads

There are fewer changes to France’s 23 compared to when these sides met eight months ago at Murrayfield, with 6 new faces versus 10 for Scotland. 6 Frenchmen will start both games; 7 of the bench from March have moved up into the XV; and 4 starters from the Six Nations game have gone in the opposite direction.

Scotland call upon 9 of the same starting XV with 2 more benched, 1 promoted from the replacements and Sam Skinner the only one of the 16 subs on either side to hold the same role all these months later.

Tale of the tape

BACKS
42   
Tries   39
96kg
   Average weight   91kg
204   
Total caps   154
27.5   
Average age   26.1

FORWARDS
907kg
   Pack weight   916kg
16   
Tries   14
219   
Total caps   146
27.0   
Average age   25.7

SUBSTITUTES
26   
Tries   2
159   Total caps   59
28.4   
Average age   24.7

Changes

5 changes to Scotland starting XV from last Test (v Italy)

  • 14 – Kinghorn for Graham [-]
  • 1 – Kebble for Sutherland [=]
  • 2 – Brown for McInally [=]
  • 3 – Berghan for Z. Fagerson [-]
  • 8 – M. Fagerson for Thomson [+]

Head-to-Head

SCOTLAND
Stuart Hogg (c)
Blair Kinghorn
Chris Harris
Sam Johnson
Duhan van der Merwe
Duncan Weir
Ali Price

Oli Kebble
Fraser Brown
Simon Berghan
Scott Cummings
Jonny Gray
Jamie Ritchie
Hamish Watson
Mat Fagerson

George Turner
Jamie Bhatti
Zander Fagerson
Sam Skinner
Blade Thomson
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
Duncan Taylor
Sean Maitland


ADV Scotland
ADV France
ADV France
ADV France
ADV Scotland
ADV France
ADV France

ADV Scotland
EVEN
ADV France
ADV France
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
EVEN
ADV France

ADV France
ADV France
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
EVEN
EVEN
EVEN
ADV Scotland

FRANCE
Thomas Ramos
Teddy Thomas
Virimi Vakatawa
Gael Fickou
Vincent Rattez
Mathieu Jalibert
Antoine Dupont

Jean-Baptiste Gros
Camille Chat
Demba Bamba
Bernard le Roux
Romain Taofifenua
Dylan Cretin
Charles Ollivon (c)
Gregory Alldritt

Julien Marchand
Cyril Baille
Mohamed Haouas
Paul Willemse
Cameron Woki
Baptiste Couilloud
Louis Carbonel
Arthur Vincent

Miscellany

– There will have been a 2,451 day gap between starts at Murrayfield for Scotland by Duncan Weir when he takes to the field on Sunday. That last home outing in the 10 shirt was also against France (8th March 2014). Stuart Hogg, Duncan Taylor and Gael Fickou are the only other returning players from that fixture.

– Scotland may be missing Darcy Graham, with 14 tries in his last 14 appearances at Murrayfield. They can call on Duhan van der Merwe though, who has bagged a more than respectable 9 tries in his last 13 games at the national stadium. Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland both have 10 Test tries at the home of Scottish rugby – only two players in history have managed more (Tony Stanger – 21; Iwan Tukalo – 11).

– So far in this Autumn’s series of fixtures, Gregor Townsend has used 37 players as he looks to develop depth for the current World Cup cycle. In all the Scotland head coach has given game time to 79 players during his time in charge.

– The 2023 RWC is next on the horizon but with an even longer term view this French side contains 11 players who will be 31 or younger when the 2027 edition of the tournament kicks off – they look to be building for the long-term as well as delivering current success. Scotland have 5 men in the same age range.


Missed part 1 of the preview? Check it out here.

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When he's not watching Glasgow, Scotland (and even Edinburgh) Kevin can usually be found with his head in a spreadsheet working out the most obscure Scottish rugby related stat he can put out on Twitter.
Follow Kevin on twitter @topofthemoonGW

52 comments on “Scotland v France, Autumn Nations Cup 2020: Match Preview pt II – head to heads

  1. Dobie on

    According to ESPN of Stuart Hogg’s 20 tries , he has scored against France 4 times, 3 of which were at Murrayfield. My deduction is 30% of his home tries have been against France. I wonder what the odds are on Hogg scoring tomorrow ! Got to be good. The head to heads paint a gloomy picture, let’s hope they do not travel well.

    Reply
  2. Gaffer on

    Camille Chat is a beast right now and the firm hooker adv – France
    I’d have Sam Hildago Clyne on from the start. Again he’s the in form 9

    Reply
      • Dobie on

        Ali Price v Dupont. I hope he has improved. This is where the game will be one or lost, however I do not think bringing SHC on form the start is an option. I also hope our referee is better than Pierce yesterday. Wales were using neck locks everywhere. Georgia were definitely hard done by.

  3. Rj on

    Im not usually prices biggest fan but thought he had one of his best games last week. Looks like he’s matured a lot, hopefully he can keep it up.

    Reply
  4. Tam on

    3 things I look forward to this afternoon:The up turn of aggression Scotland will play with after learning from last week. The impact Zander will have when he comes on. How much Duncan Weir and the centre partnership have learnt to be creative in getting better yardage up field!! COME ON SCOTLAND!

    Reply
      • Tryhard on

        I will be because Zander and Kebble are both the strongest scrummagers available. It provides a bit of balance rather than having our scrum go to pieces when the replacements come on.

        Saying that, I don’t really understand why Berghan is in over Nel. A it more mobility maybe but I’ve always thought Nel was underrated in that category.

  5. Tam on

    Im with you all the way with you on this Dobie. However, its the up turn of energy he’ll provide being angered of having to sit and wait and potentially enthusing his team mates to follow suit. He’s matured massively over the last 12 months knowing not to lose his head like the younger man he was!

    Reply
    • Sotonsaltire on

      Matt Fagerson has been blown away. Kinghorn looks shorn of confidence.

      Plan presumably is to cling on and unload bench with 20 mins to go. Their bench is monstrous unfortunately. In Toonie we trust?? Mmm.

      Reply
      • Neil on

        Thought Fagerson has done ok against very tough opposition actually, made 2-3 carriers which have made good meters, would not be surprised if he has most meters made in the pack for 1st half.

      • sotonsaltire on

        Interesting Neil. Maybe I am being unfair. To me he looks like getting turned over in every contact particularly the restarts.

  6. Gavin on

    Am I missing something or should Jalibert not have been allowed to kick out on the full from inside his goal area? They clearly carried it back in, Lawson specifically pointed out the accuracy of the box kick being 1 metre outside of the 22. Is there a nuance in the rules I’m not aware of?

    Reply
  7. Neil on

    Scotland have regressed since six nations on this showing. Weaker attack, and almost as many points conceded in 2 games as we have in 4 games in six nations.

    Attack is absolutely useless, Hogg lives up to his name, Did Harris pass the ball?!

    France did not even play particularly well. 5 match win streak for Scotland has been proven to luck.

    Reply
  8. Sotonsaltire on

    This has been rank rotten. Beaten in every facet of the game.

    France didn’t even fire a shot.

    Again it looks like Townsend thinks we can’t beat them so let’s try to think of something that no-one has thought of and pick a hodgepodge starting lineup (See Ireland in the World Cup).

    Hogg kicking it dead says it all. Team not good enough and the mistakes are just signs of the pressure.

    And no, getting a losing point against the 4th ranked team in the world is not a ‘good result’, ‘signs of things to come’, ‘a good hit out and strengthening the depth’. It’s losing yet another key game.

    Reply
    • Johnny b on

      It wasn’t that bad.
      I don’t know if I agree about hodgepodge selection. It’s been fairly consistent and we’ve got a few injuries.
      Horne maybe? Assume he’s not injured.

      Other than that it’s the team most of the fans would pick with the injuries we’ve got unless you know of some guy tearing up the pro 14 that I don’t.

      France are good! They deserve some credit. They put both Wales and Ireland through the mincer, want to bet they won’t win this whole thing?

      Reply
    • Sam Benedict on

      Watson was knackered.

      Wonderful player. They can go on about Jack Willis in the Georgia pre-game, but we have an openside to beat the rest. All hail The Mish! Another Lion for sure.

      Reply
  9. SlowWalk90 on

    We’ll never be consistent winners until we learn to take advantage of the opportunities we’re given.

    The 5 metre line up cock up was amateurish, and Hogg’s missed kick to end the game was unbelievable, even for Scotland.

    It’s not even that we didn’t execute in those moments. It’s that we didn’t even clear the first hurdle in both situations, or come remotely close to scoring.

    Reply
  10. Nessie on

    A poor match and the Toony selections did not pay off, except Matt F maybe deserves another crack at No8. Berghan and Kinghorn were both poor. We never ever looked like getting thru France and our only hope was Duhan but we never gave him enough ball. Should have had Skinner on earlier as we were getting pummelled in the mauls. The ending just summed us up. We are a bang average Tier 2 team.

    Reply
    • Johnny b on

      Rubbish.
      France are a very good team with very good players and a very good coach who won’t let them do what French teams have historically done ie flake out.

      Kinghorn hardly saw the ball, what do you expect him to do?

      We lose a bit of flair with Duncan Weir, but we know that. He’s a solid, decent player but Finn and Adam are special players. It’s a big deal to lose players like that.

      They stuck at it and were competitive, but they didn’t have the attacking edge to make the ball they got count.

      Bad luck!

      Reply
    • Grumpy on

      That would not have made a difference,we did a lot of things well . It was a good game , not a lot in it, France made mistakes, we made mistakes. Fine margins, all the usual. There is always next week.

      Reply
  11. Johnny b on

    Bit disappointing.
    Think we miss the fly halves. Duncan Weir’s not bad but the 2 we’ve lost are a bit special.
    Think France are a good team too. They’ve been building confidence with great victories over Ireland and Wales and have a great coach. Who will they play? England probably? If they don’t lose their heads that could be quite interesting. Wouldn’t bet against a repeat of the 6N result.

    Oh well, next game’s a gimme!! Hopefully Toonie and the team can rediscover that attacking mojo in the interim without losing the defensive solidity they’ve built.

    Reply
  12. weeAl on

    Don’t agree with some of the comments here. I think we did well against what is one of the best teams at the moment. We shut down their attack, kept it close all the way. Could easily have been a draw, if Hogg could just take a breath and make touch….. seriously… why is he still Captain? It’s ridiculous to give the captaincy to your best player and then wonder why we often don’t get the best from him. Give the guy a break, and pass the Captaincy to Ritchie who was born for the role.
    Johnson is absolutely not the right guy, in any capacity, he has so little impact in attack, adios. Harris (who I’ve never been a fan of) actually had a good game I think and deserves his spot, he’s grown into. Duhan is great, but one man can’t do it – I can see him do a lot more damage if he’s playing alongside Graham, and Jones. We really missed the injection of pace. Kinghorn is ok, but as a bench for Hogg, definitely not deserving a regular spot. Bhatti…. need I say anything, he’s not international level by any means. Nell should be the replacement, until Sutherland’s back. Thomson is soft. Johnny Grey looked tired. Weir, bless him, had a really good game and deserves some solid credit for stepping up to the role, bravo, and great hair.
    Altogether disappointing of course, but given our injuries to key players I think we did ok. This is something to build on, and tinker with, unlike the flash in the pan theatrics we’ve seen in recent years.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      France are obviously on a good winning run….but they did not look that great today…we also did not play well and still they gave us chances to win…which we duly completely butchered!

      Reply
  13. RuggersB on

    Actually thought both teams didn’t play very well.
    Alot of errors at crucial moments from both sides.
    Our scrum was getting butchered in the 1st half….and seemed to improve from when Fagerson came on.
    Yet again Fagerson is not an international 8…maybe a 7. Im getting tired of saying it.
    Where on earth has our attack gone?
    Why didn’t we use VDM more?
    Kinghorn needs to go back to club rugby for a while. D Graham is a far better rugby player.
    Will Hogg ever stop brain farting? I doubt it. He plays well 90% of time and then makes a ridiculous attempts at a crucial moments. That last kick?…FFS. In addition I wish he would stop yaking in the press about what we are going to do before an important match.
    Why!?…oh why!? did we continue kicking back position time after time when France were clearly solid under the high ball??
    Why did GT not sub the front row earlier when they were clearly getting roasted and tired.
    What stuck out also is that unless we play our very best players against the top teams ..there is little chance we will win. Russell sorely missed. Weir showed why he wasn’t selected for 4 years. He is another Laidlaw….he kicks penalties…and little else.

    Reply
  14. john on

    As previously stated 10- 12 -13 a real worry, Johnson is class but Weir & Harris not international standard.
    It was a funny risk averse display by Scotland, we have went from the “fastest team in the world” to a team that kicks hoping for a mistake from our opponents.
    Maitland is a different class to Kinghorn, why Huw Jones is not involved is beyond me however……. France are a good team & did the basics well (that was all that was required really).
    Really miss Hastings & Russell, Weir is an excellent place kicker but has little at this level.
    Hogg’s kick at the end was poor

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      Maitland, VDM and Graham are all significantly better players at this level than Kinghorn.
      He needs to go away and bulk up a bit and improve his all round game.

      ..and yes…bringing back Jones in midfield needs to be looked at. We look like we are better defensively but offer little in attack. We need to do both to win the top games.

      Reply
  15. Lochinverboy on

    Interesting stuff. We have gone from the fastest team in the world to the tightest. Cotter had one plan. To redeem our forwards. On that platform our backs would thrive. Townsend didn’t. The fastest run by on the planet. Ridiculed correctly by Tom English. Now we have gone in months to the hardest team to beat. Kudos to Tandy and De Villiers. With the same backs. Over to Townsend. He picks a team of his first instinct. Fagerson at 8. Against a team with 100 per cent success at the scrum. Start with Skinner and Thomson and we would have the weight and the momentum. Why Fagerson? To give us fast ball in a midfield bypassed by the game? Townsend’s old midfield. Impossible to fathom.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      Thing is….today we were not that hard to beat…because we offered little threat going forward.
      The french defense looked pretty comfortable…partly because all we did was leather the ball into the air and turn back possession.

      Reply
  16. Sam Benedict on

    Firstly, colour me vindicated for thinking that we’d lack the necessary “wee something” in attack without Darcy Graham. We missed him more than any other player today barring Russell.

    Hogg had a poor game, but he’s still the captain, still nailed on for the Lions (he’s also playing better than Daly or Williams), and should still be captain. He’ll be hurting a great deal after this game, might well be having nightmares about it.

    Chris Harris is a great centre. He should never have been in the team to begin with, he obviously doesn’t work with the rest of the backs, he was given way too many chances like he was Toonie’s special project, but…he’s undroppable. He’s genuinely earned his place.

    Hutchinson, when fit, should come in for Johnson, who just isn’t up to scratch unless he’s on the end of an inside ball.

    Townsend needs to come out and say publicly that Price is droppable. He simply isn’t cutting it; he’s the weak link of our team.

    Russell was deeply missed today. Deeply. Let’s not give Weir too many pelters as he was impressive from the tee.

    Let’s not forget: we lost to France, arguably the world’s form team, at home – for the first time in six years – by only a seven-point margin, in a freak circumstance where we had lost BOTH our international fly-halves to injury. We also didn’t have Rory Sutherland, Jamie Ritchie was clearly not ready for this game after his HIA last round, and this is all happening behind closed doors in lockdown anyway.

    Reply
  17. Sam Benedict on

    Firstly, colour me vindicated for thinking that we’d lack the necessary “wee something” in attack without Darcy Graham. We missed him more than any other player today barring Russell.

    Hogg had a poor game, but he’s still the captain, still nailed on for the Lions (he’s also playing better than Daly or Williams), and should still be captain. He’ll be hurting a great deal after this game, might well be having nightmares about it.

    Chris Harris is a great centre. He should never have been in the team to begin with, he obviously doesn’t work with the rest of the backs, he was given way too many chances like he was Toonie’s special project, but…he’s undroppable. He’s genuinely earned his place. Hutchinson is a big absence.

    Townsend needs to come out and say publicly that Price is droppable. He simply isn’t cutting it; he’s the weak link of our team.

    Russell was deeply missed today. Deeply. Let’s not give Weir too many pelters as he was impressive from the tee.

    Let’s not forget: we lost to France, arguably the world’s form team, at home – for the first time in six years – by only a seven-point margin, in a freak circumstance where we had lost BOTH our international fly-halves to injury. We also didn’t have Rory Sutherland, Jamie Ritchie was clearly not ready for this game after his HIA last round, and this is all happening behind closed doors in lockdown anyway.

    Reply
    • Grumpy on

      Sam : Did Hogg really have such a poor game, he just forgets it is not all about him and a lions squad will not let him. I think Williams is a better all rounder but maybe a season too far for him. I don’t actually care for Williams either, I just do get overly biased.A lions tour will do Hogg the world of good, but he may have to work to win the test place. Lets just say , Hogg is no Gavin Hastings, there was never a doubt over him. Different time, different game, just saying.

      Reply
    • Brewster on

      Totally agree Sam the border terrier was a great miss because he never stops looking for chances. Fed up of hearing about his size it’s never been an issue for him.
      In his head anyway.

      Reply
  18. john on

    I’m not at all sure that playing that strategy we will beat any of the top 10 teams (Wales is the fly in my arguments ointment but they were piss poor 2 weeks ago)
    Agree 100% with RuggersB

    Reply
  19. Angerine on

    Totally get the lack of Kinghorn love, but I think he’s a big reason for our level of defensive stinginess. Like a lot of you no doubt, I’m very much into Squidge’s videos, and he picked out Kinghorn in his six nations videos for both the England and France games, making brilliant decisions to cut down overlaps. Since when, I’ve been looking out for it, and again today, he made some really, really good choices to prevent what looked like at least a couple of certain tries. The problem is that the backs seem to have been picked purely for defense, rather than creating anything.

    Is that the right call? Well, nobody has beaten us by more than a score this year, which given where we were last year is frankly incredible. And take any nations two first choice 10s out of the equation, they’re going to struggle. Hopefully they’ll build on this year and we’ll start to see more of the flair we know is in this team. Maybe it’s time for a new attack coach. In other words, actually hiring an attack coach.

    Final word for wee Dunc, who again did pretty well. Nobody’s first choice, but perfect placekicking and mixed it in defence (his stop on Chat just before halftime was bone-shudderingly brilliant).

    Reply

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