Match Report

Fickou pops up late to seal French win over Scotland

Gaël Fickou’s last-gasp try clinched a stunning France victory against Scotland in one of the games of the Guinness Six Nations so far.

Gaël Fickou’s last-gasp try clinched a stunning France victory against Scotland in one of the games of the Guinness Six Nations so far.

Both teams played the majority of the game with 14 men, and while France led throughout, they only sealed the win in the 80th minute when Fickou crashed over for the bonus-point try to wrap up a 32-21 win.

This defeat ends Scotland’s Grand Slam hopes, missing out on what would have been a deserved losing bonus point as well. France, meanwhile, keep their own Championship hopes alive, with five points from this game allowing them to dream if Ireland slip up at some point along the way.

The first half was played at a frantic pace, with two tries and two red cards in the first ten minutes.

France hit the front through Romain Ntamack before Grant Gilchrist was dismissed for a dangerous tackle on Anthony Jelonch.

Les Bleus then extended their lead through Ethan Dumortier before Mohamed Haouas’ clearout on Ben White saw him dismissed for the second time in this fixture, levelling up the numbers on the field.

A Thomas Ramos intercept score helped France stretch their lead, with Huw Jones hitting back for Scotland as the home side led 22-7 at the break.

While they trailed by three scores, Scotland did not feel out of it by any means, and Jones’s second try early in the second half got them right back into it.

Russell then crossed for their third, but with four points separating the sides as the clock drifted towards full-time, it was France who got back on the front foot and Fickou who clinched the win.


Fresh from their first defeat in more than 18 months, France laid down an early marker with Anthony Jelonch lining up Duhan van der Merwe and forcing a penalty after bringing him down.

Kicking to touch, they set up a maul from which Julien Marchand charged forwards, with the French front five making ground on every carry with lightning quick ball. That opened up space out wide with Ntamack the beneficiary, crossing as he did four years ago on his first Test start, also against the Scots.

Ramos converted and from the restart, Scotland’s afternoon got worse as Gilchrist and Matt Fagerson put in a big double tackle on Jelonch. The former connected with the head of Jelonch and referee Nika Amushakeli had no choice but to bring out the red card.

France were flying, and with an extra man, they pounced on some sloppy play in a ruck from Scotland. When Stuart Hogg was hauled down in his own 22, the ball then squirted off a Scottish boot onto the French side. Antoine Dupont saw it was on to the left and through a huge miss-pass, from which Fickou and Ntamack combined to put in Dumortier. Ramos’ conversion kissed the post and drifted wide but France were in control at 12-0.


They then conceded a penalty from the restart though and as Scotland tried to get on the board, Haouas made head-to-head contact with Ben White on a clearout and joined Gilchrist in receiving his marching orders – as he had at BT Murrayfield in 2020.

Both teams needed a reshuffle after being reduced to 14, the returning Hamish Watson sacrificed for Jonny Gray by Scotland, Grégory Alldritt making way for Sipili Falatea.

Scotland were starting to monopolise the ball, helped by a brilliant 50:22 from Russell. After an initial maul was halted, they tried a couple of little charges through the forwards and Zander Fagerson spun out of one tackle but reached for the line and was just short while knocking on.

Instead, as Scotland kept searching for a way through, Russell gambled on a long pass that was picked off by Ramos, who sprinted 60 metres for the third French try. He added the conversion to make it 19-0.

Scotland needed a response and they got it. Back in the 22, they went to the maul and while that was stopped, Russell put in a perfect flat pass to send Jones through.

While the scoreboard was against them, Scotland had enjoyed the better of the possession and territory. France needed to get their hands on the ball and when they did so, showed their threat once again with Damian Penaud shrugging off three tackles on a burst. Eventually, Matt Fagerson went off his feet at a ruck, giving France a chance to push the lead out to three scores and he duly obliged.

They almost had the bonus point before the break. Jones was forced into touch chasing back one kick and France took the quick lineout with Charles Ollivon bursting over. Unfortunately for the flanker, the clock was already in the red and France had to settle for a 22-7 half-time lead.


Scotland needed the first score of the second half and they got it with some great play from Jones. He started it with a charge down the left, and as the French defence scrambled, he again popped up to crash over for his second.

Next it was France who should have been in for their bonus-point score, brilliant lines and hands putting Dumortier into position to go over in the corner. The winger decided to cut inside the final defender though and was held up over the line.

France did eventually get more points on the board though, Scotland going off their feet at a breakdown allowing Ramos to make it 25-14.

Still Scotland kept coming, and a clever kick forced Ramos to concede a five-metre lineout. They were getting the upper hand in the scrum and used that to earn penalty advantage before going to the backs where Sione Tuipulotu carried powerfully. That opened up space out wide and Russell took advantage to slip between two tackles and get over for Scotland’s third try. He converted to cut the deficit to four points.

Just as it seemed that the comeback was on, some basic errors cost Scotland. A knock-on from Blair Kinghorn gave France field position. When they could not take advantage, an overthrown lineout got them back into the Scottish 22.

Given the chance to push the lead back to seven with five minutes remaining, France gambled and went to the corner. It did not work first time, but another Scottish infringement gave them another chance and this time from a quick tap, they took advantage of some tired bodies for Fickou to burst through.

France will now head to Twickenham, looking to defeat England on their own patch for the first time in the Fabien Galthié era.

Scotland, meanwhile, have to use the rest week to regather ahead of welcoming unbeaten Ireland to BT Murrayfield.


Even before he crossed for the match-winning try, Gaël Fickou had been named Guinness Player of the Match, so it was only fitting that he delivered the final blow.

Tireless in defence, on a day when France were starved of possession, Fickou also broke three tackles and made some telling interventions with ball in hand for the 2022 Grand Slam champions.