Five players who could derail France’s Championship bid

The attention will be all on France on Friday night, as Fabien Galthie’s side go in search of their first Guinness Six Nations title in 11 years.

The attention will be all on France on Friday night, as Fabien Galthie’s side go in search of their first Guinness Six Nations title in 11 years.

Les Bleus can topple Wales at the summit of the table, but only if they tick a number of boxes – more of which you can find here.

But what about the side trying to stop them?

Scotland’s Championship hopes were extinguished by Ireland in Round 4 but they still have a lot to play for and can actually finish above France if they triumph in Paris and bag second place.

Gregor Townsend has his full squad available and Scotland are chasing a piece of history of their own, as they seek their first win away to France in 22 years.

Here are some of the men who can help them do it.


The captain. The leader. And a man who is already a Scotland legend.

Stuart Hogg has been at his brilliant best in this Championship, scoring two tries, assisting two more and doing things mere mortals can only dream of.

Hogg filled in at fly-half against Italy but is expected to return to his favoured full-back on Friday night and France will know all about the damage he can inflict.

In a game where France will need to attack in a bid to score points, they must also be wary of taking too great a risk. If they do, Hogg can punish them.

The two-time Player of the Championship thrives in a broken game and can turn defence into attack in a blink of an eye. Just ask Italy, who he turned inside out with a brilliant offload to Huw Jones in what is a Guinness Six Nations Try of Round 4 contender.

France’s card has been marked.


Hogg’s partner in crime and a man France know only too well, Finn Russell should be fit to play at the Stade de France after missing the Round 5 game with Italy through injury.

Russell plays his club rugby in France with Racing 92 and has a creative brain to match the likes of Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.

Russell will orchestrate the Scotland attack with ball-in-hand and is capable of long, looping passes out wide and deft offloads inside. His ability to conjure something out of very little makes him deadly.

Like all playmakers, Russell thrives on quick ball. It’s up to France’s forwards to deny him that, or they could pay the price.


One of Scotland’s best players in this Championship, Duhan van der Merwe has emerged as a fine Test winger and may now be starting to clear his summer social schedule to make way for a possible Lions tour.

Van der Merwe is the etch-a-sketch winger: tall, muscular and with pace to burn.

He printed his name into Scottish rugby folklore by scoring the only try in Scotland’s historic Round 1 win away to England – their first at Twickenham since 1983, in case you’ve forgotten.

He backed that up with two further scores against Italy in Round 5, including one where just took off in the open field and galloped clear.

A deadly try-scorer, if he gets a whiff of the line then you can bet he’ll take it.


Although France will be conscious of the need to score at least four tries to secure a bonus point and then enough points to overturn Wales’ advantage, the battle in any Test match is won in the trenches.

France and Scotland both boast a terrific trio of back-row forwards but arguably none have had as fine a Championship as Hamish Watson.

The openside was named Guinness Six Nations Player of the Match for an all-action performance against Italy in Round 4, where he carried 21 times for 120 metres.

But of greater significance is his effectiveness at the breakdown, where he has won four turnovers in four games – the most of any French or Scottish player.


With Chris Harris and others in the mix, it’s far from certain Huw Jones will start against France. But even if he comes off the bench, he’s the type of player that’s capable of wrecking Les Bleus’ title bid.

After bursting onto the scene in 2017 and 2018, Jones went off the boil last year but is gradually re-discovering his best form – demonstrated with tries in back-to-back Guinness Six Nations games against Ireland and Italy.

Both of those were similar, in the way he took the ball, burst through a gap and used his underrated speed to sprint clear.

Few centres can match Jones for pace and he has a brilliant sense for running the right support lines. In an open game, especially one that could be as open as Friday’s promises to be, he could just be the man who scores the decisive try.

Scotland squad to face France:

Simon Berghan, David Cherry, Alex Craig, Matt Fagerson, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Nick Haining, Rob Harley, Oli Kebble, WP Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Sam Skinner, Grant Stewart, Rory Sutherland, George Turner, Hamish Watson, Jamie Dobie, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg (captain), Sam Johnson, Huw Jones, Rufus McLean, Duhan van der Merwe, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Scott Steele, Jaco van der Walt.