Robinson urges Scots to go for the jugular
Scottish coach Andy Robinson has promised a high-tempo, high-risk gameplan close to the heart of most Scots when their team take on France tomorrow; so much so that Murrayfield will be packed to the rafters, which has not been the norm in recent seasons.
"The players know that we're going to move the ball around against the French -- and we have to -- because they're going to put pressure on us, so we have to score tries and score points," admitted backs coach Gregor Townsend.
"The players are very receptive. To work with players keen to see as much of the ball as possible has been very exciting."
In November, a simple last-minute penalty miss by Matt Giteau may have effectively gifted Scotland victory, but anybody at Murrayfield that day will testify as to how the Scottish defence hassled, irritated and defied the Australians from start to finish, pressurising high-class players into untypical mistakes. Much more of the same will be needed tomorrow.
As for France coach Marc Lievremont, he has been casting his net so wide that even the French coach driver and baggage man pack their boots these days, just in case.
There have been occasional flashes of brilliance -- that classy victory in New Zealand and a cold-eyed dismantling of South Africa last autumn -- but mostly France have looked inhibited, too structured and over-coached.
There is a curious -- in fact downright puzzling -- statistic which is possibly not unconnected. Over the past five seasons of Six Nations rugby -- 25 matches per team -- the supposedly volatile, stroppy, conniving French have the best disciplinary record in terms of yellow cards: just one.
Compare this with England (10), Wales and Italy (9), Scotland (6) and Ireland (4).
Perhaps it is not just Scotland who would welcome some chaos and disruption; perhaps France need to start living a bit closer to the edge again, contesting the tackle area more vigorously.
The devil went out of their game when former coach Bernard Laporte read the riot act and Lievremont has his control freak moments -- this week he banned all his players using Twitter or Facebook after Sebastien Chabal inadvertently revealed he was struggling with a back injury.
They need to be back on message tomorrow though.
The official Bill McLaren Memorial is being organised for next month but you fancy that Scotland's rugby folk would like to warm up by honouring the great man with something special at Murrayfield this time around. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Scotland -- C Paterson; T Evans, M Evans, G Morrison, S Lamont; P Godman, C Cusiter (Capt); A Dickinson, R Ford, M Low, N Hines, A Kellock, K Brown, J Barclay, J Beattie. Reps: S Lawson, A Jacobsen, R Gray, A MacDonald, R Lawson, A Grove, H Southwell.
France -- C Poitrenaud; B Fall, M Bastareaud, Y Jauzion, A Rougerie; F Trinh-Duc, M Parra; T Domingo, W Servat, N Mas, L Nallet, P Pape, T Dusautoir (Capt), F Ouedraogo, I Harinordoquy. Reps: D Szarzewski, L Ducalcon, J Pierre, J Bonnaire, F Michalak, D Marty, V Clerc.
Ref -- Nigel Owens (Wales).
Scotland v France,
Live, tomorrow, RTE 2, BBC 1, 3.0