France and Scotland set to face off in 100th meeting

When France and Scotland take to the field at the Stade de France on Sunday it will be the 100th time the sides have faced off.

When France and Scotland take to the field at the Stade de France on Sunday it will be the 100th time the sides have faced off.

For Scotland fans, it has been a long time since the meeting held such importance.

With ten points from a possible ten to start their Guinness Six Nations campaign, this is Scotland’s best opening to the Championship in more than two decades.

If they can win in Paris for the second match in a row for the first time since the 1960s, dreams of a title and a Grand Slam will start to take form.

Last time they travelled to the Stade de France, it was for a rearranged encounter where France needed to win by 21 points to take the title from Wales.

Instead, Duhan van der Merwe’s try with the clock in the red ended a 22-year wait for a win in the French capital.

Overall, France have had the better of meetings between the sides, winning 57 times to Scotland 39, with three draws along the way.

The first encounter, all the way back in 1910, was a big Scottish victory though, 27-0, in a game where the home side did not even award caps such was the standing of their opponents at the time.

France responded with a 16-15 win in Colombes the following year although it was Scotland who were the dominant force until the second world war, winning 11 to France’s four.

Thereafter, the Auld Alliance has been more royal blue than navy, with some notable exceptions along the way.

In 1984, Jim Calder’s try proved the difference as Scotland claimed their second-ever Grand Slam, beating Les Bleus 21-12 in Edinburgh.

Fast-forward 11 years and it was current coach Gregor Townsend who produced his legendary ‘Toonie Flip’ to end a 26-year drought in Paris as he put Gavin Hastings under the sticks.

A win in Paris in 1999 was also the foundation for Scotland’s last Championship title, getting a helping hand from Scott Gibbs at Wembley to seal the deal.

Add in the recent record of three wins in five meetings under Townsend, and Scotland have enjoyed their share of success against Les Bleus.

Momentum is clearly on their side, but they are up against a team who had not lost a match in 18 months prior to Round 2’s trip to Dublin.

Les Bleus eventually came away with nothing from the Aviva Stadium, but they were right in the mix until Garry Ringrose’s try nine minutes from time.

And when it comes to clashes with Scotland, France have some positive history of their own to call upon.

In 1997, Olivier Magne was part of the team that ran riot in a 47-20 victory that clinched the first of successive Grand Slams for Les Bleus.

A decade on, the scoreline was almost identical when the teams met on Super Saturday. On that occasion, it was rather more important. France needed to win by 24 points to overtake Ireland and claim the title. They got there thanks to Elvis Vermeulen’s try in the final minute, sealing a third title in four years.

With it being Round 3 on Sunday, the permutations are rather more straightforward at this stage. For France, only a win will realistically do if they are to keep their hopes of defending their crown alive.

Scotland, meanwhile, can dare to dream if they build on their perfect start and recreate the glory days of ’95, ’99 and ’21.