Five Classics: Scotland v France

Duhan van der Merwe celebrates scoring a try with team mates  26/3/2021
A 99th meeting between Scotland and France at BT Murrayfield next weekend could prove to be one of the matches of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations.

A 99th meeting between Scotland and France at BT Murrayfield next weekend could prove to be one of the matches of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations.

Scotland produced a terrific performance to beat England 20-17 in their first home match of this year’s Championships, while France are yet to lose a match after beating Italy and Ireland in the opening two rounds.

In recent years, the two nations have contested some classic encounters that have lit up either BT Murrayfield or the Stade de France, and they’ve split their past eight meetings evenly suggesting it will be all to play for once again.

But before the action begins in Edinburgh, here are five previous memorable Guinness Six Nations encounters between the two to build excitement even further.

Scotland held firm in the closing stages to pick up a memorable victory at BT Murrayfield 16 years ago.

The hosts started superbly and were up 13-3 at halftime thanks to a Sean Lamont try and conversion from Chris Paterson, with two Paterson penalties helping them to a ten-point advantage.

And it looked as if victory was sealed early on in the second half as a second Lamont try, coupled with another Paterson conversion, saw Scotland take a 20-3 lead.

France charged back in the second half, with tries from Julien Bonnaire and Sébastien Bruno and a second penalty from Jean-Baptiste Élissalde closing the gap to four points.

However, Scotland’s defence held firm in the dying moments and they were able to secure victory.

After that defeat in 2006, France went on a ten-match winning run against Scotland, and this was one of their best victories at BT Murrayfield during that time.

A then-teenage Stuart Hogg, making his first international start, scored the opening try and Greig Laidlaw’s conversion saw them take an early lead, and this was followed up by a successful Laidlaw penalty.

After a slow start, France worked their way into the game, and Wesley Fofana’s try was backed up by a Morgan Parra conversion and then a Parra penalty in the 38th minute to level proceedings.

A second Parra penalty put the visitors ahead for the first time but Lee Jones moved Scotland back in front with a superb try, with Scotland leading 17-13 after Duncan Weir’s conversion.

Yet France again rallied, Maxime Medard’s try putting them a point ahead before Parra’s subsequent conversion and his third successful penalty cemented the win.

Two years after their previous meeting at BT Murrayfield, France prevailed in an even tighter contest between the two in 2014.

France started brightly with two early Maxime Machenaud penalties handing them the lead inside ten minutes, though Hogg’s try in the 12th minute, coupled with Laidlaw’s conversion, put the hosts ahead.

The visitors edged their way back in front through a third Machenaud penalty, though Tommy Seymour’s try, with extras from Laidlaw, helped Scotland lead 14-9 after the opening 40 minutes.

However, a stunning Yoann Huget try saw France regain the advantage, intercepting a misplaced pass and sprinting the length of the pitch to score with Machenaud’s conversion pushing them ahead.

Weir scored a penalty to again turn the game on its head only for a Jean-Marc Doussain penalty in the final minute to edge France over the line.

Scotland had ended their losing run against France by 2018 and, on this occasion, it was they who came from behind to seal a famous victory.

Teddy Thomas scored two first-half tries, both converted, to put France ahead at BT Murrayfield, though Scotland responded on both occasions through Sean Maitland and Huw Jones.

A penalty late in the first half from Machenaud saw France lead 20-14 at halftime, though Scotland came roaring back in the second half.

Baptiste Serin scored two second half penalties for the visitors but he could not match the boot of Laidlaw, who scored six penalties to propel his side to victory.

After drawing level with the fourth penalty in the 65th minute, strikes from Laidlaw six and eight minutes later saw Scotland secure a memorable win on home soil.

In last year’s Round 3 clash, delayed until the end of the Championship, Duhan van der Merwe proved to be the hero in a last-gasp victory.

Van der Merwe had put Scotland ahead 15 minutes in with his first try after an early Romain Ntamack penalty for the hosts, and Finn Russell’s penalty continued their good start.

A converted Brice Dulin try in the 36th minute and a second Ntamack penalty gave France a 13-10 lead at halftime, though a dramatic second 40 minutes followed at the Stade de France.

Damian Penaud scored a second French try to increase their lead to eight points, though it was down to just one after Russell scored a penalty and added the extras following David Cherry’s 62nd-minute score.

Swan Rebbadj scored a third French try just a few minutes later, though Scotland ultimately snatched the win at the death.

An 80th-minute try from van der Merwe saw Scotland move ahead, and Adam Hastings’ conversion was the final kick of a true Guinness Six Nations classic.