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Preview: France v Scotland

Preview: France v Scotland

Finn Russell Romain Ntamack France Scotland

France fans will get their first chance to see their team on home soil in the Summer Nations Series as Les Bleus look to avenge last week’s defeat to Scotland when the two sides meet in Saint-Etienne.

Fabien Galthié had named an inexperienced side at Scottish Gas Murrayfield, and despite a fine first-half showing, they could not hold off a big home comeback in a 25-21 defeat.

For the return fixture, the World Cup hosts will have a more familiar feel to them, with the majority of the side who finished second in the Guinness Six Nations getting their first taste of action this summer, including skipper Antoine Dupont.

Gregor Townsend, meanwhile, will be keen to make it three wins from three in the Summer Nations Series, with this the last opportunity for Scotland players to impress before their squad is announced next week.

@autumnnationsseriesDid someone order a MASSIVE SECOND HALF COMEBACK?! 💥♬ original sound – Autumn Nations Series ⚡️

Team news

France handed out three debuts and fielded a largely experimental side a week ago but it is the tried and tested who will enter the fray this weekend.

Dupont joins Romain Ntamack in the familiar half-back pairing, while the likes of Grégory Alldritt, Gaël Fickou and Damian Penaud will also look to hit the ground running.

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Only two players keep their starting roles from a week ago, Paul Boudehent who impressed on debut, and lock Cameron Woki, while 20-year-old Louis Bielle-Biarrey will again look to catch the eye off the bench.

Scotland, meanwhile, have made six changes to the team that won in Edinburgh including the return of captain Jamie Ritchie.

Rory Darge returns at openside flanker, while WP Nel gets the nod at tighthead prop in the absence of the suspended Zander Fagerson and Ali Price gets a chance to fill in for the injured Ben White.

Ones to watch

Gabin Villière has not featured for France since they clinched the Grand Slam against England in 2022, but after an injury-disrupted season, he will be eager to make up for lost time. A winger who has the skillset of a flanker, this will be Villière’s chance to show that he deserves a starting role opposite Damian Penaud – now France’s fifth top try-scorer of all time and still only 26.

From a Scotland perspective, this will be the first chance for captain Jamie Ritchie to lead the side in the Summer Nations Series. Back row might be the area of greatest depth in this Scotland side, but none of the options offer the kind of leadership that Ritchie provides, and he will be keen to put in another big performance against France.

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Stat attack

  • Scotland have won three matches against France since the 2019 Rugby World Cup – the most of any side, but France have won 13 of the last 14 meetings between the sides in France
  • France have won 20 of their last 21 Test matches on home soil including their last 11 in a row – their joint longest winning run on home soil (equalling run of 11 from 1975-77). However their most recent home defeat came against Scotland in 2021
  • Scotland’s Blair Kinghorn (1.2) and France’s Damian Penaud (1.0) are the only two players to have averaged a 1+ tries per 80 minutes in Tier 1 Test rugby in 2023 (min 240 minutes played)

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Gabin Villière, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont; 1 Cyril Baille, 2 Julien Marchand, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 4 Cameron Woki, 5 Thibaud Flament, 6 Paul Boudehent, 7 Charles Ollivon, 8 Gregory Alldritt

Replacements: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Uini Antonio, 19 Florian Verhaeghe, 20 Bastien Chalureau, 21 Sekou Macalou, 22 Maxime Lucu, 23 Louis Bielle-Biarrey

Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price; 1 Pierre Schoeman, 2 George Turner, 3 WP Nel, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 7 Rory Darge, 8 Jack Dempsey

Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Sam Skinner, 21 Josh Bayliss, 22 George Horne, 23 Ollie Smith


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