Man Behind The Match: Visser try helps Scotland beat France

Deafening roars greeted the final whistle at BT Murrayfield back in 2016 as Scotland completed a stunning victory against France in their penultimate game of the Championship.

Deafening roars greeted the final whistle at BT Murrayfield back in 2016 as Scotland completed a stunning victory against France in their penultimate game of the Championship.

The hosts ended a ten-year winless streak against Les Bleus in the process and recorded back-to-back Championship triumphs for the first time in three years.

Winger Tim Visser was one of three try scorers on that day for Scotland, who finished the Championship in fourth after pushing England and Wales close before beating Italy.

And, in the latest of our Man Behind the Match series, former Scotland international Visser looks back on that memorable win in Edinburgh ahead of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.

Scotland came into the game on a high after ending their nine-match losing run in the Championship with a 36-20 victory against Italy in Rome in Round 3.

That result came on the back of two good performances against England and Wales – Scotland losing 15-9 to the Red Rose before being narrowly beaten 27-23 in Cardiff.

France, on the other hand, started the Championship with back-to-back home wins after opening their campaign with a 23-21 triumph over Italy at the Stade de France.

Maxime Medard’s late try then snatched victory for Les Bleus against Ireland, having trailed the visitors 9-3 at the break in Paris courtesy of three Johnny Sexton kicks.

But while the odds were against Scotland – who had not beaten France since their 20-16 triumph in Edinburgh in 2006 – Visser insisted they were feeling confident ahead of the game.

“It had been a long time since we’d last beaten France but I’d been in a couple of games where we’d got really close – we almost beat them in a friendly before the World Cup in 2015,” he said.

“We had a great chance to beat them over there [in Paris], so we’d been close to beating them a few times and we knew we could do it – so to achieve it was really memorable.”

While Scotland started brightly, they were hit by a double blow in the opening minutes when they lost Finn Russell to concussion and conceded the game’s first try.

Guilhem Guirado plunged over the line after Virimi Vakatawa sprinted down the right and passed to Wesley Fofana, who found the French captain on his inside with a clever offload.

But the hosts were given encouragement when France fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc missed the conversion from out wide, before also failing to capitalise on a straightforward penalty.

Scotland took advantage of France’s wastefulness to edge in front with two Greg Laidlaw penalties, while Stuart Hogg extended their lead when he darted over in the 33rd minute.

And it was not long before Murrayfield was on its feet again, with Duncan Taylor taking a quick penalty in his own half and leaving the French defenders trailing in his wake to touch down.

Laidlaw added the conversion for an 18-5 lead, but France responded on the cusp of half-time when Gael Fickou sliced through the Scottish defence to make it a six-point game.

Hogg converted a huge 54-metre penalty soon after the restart to make it 21-12, yet France remained in touch with a couple of Maxime Machenaud penalties.

It was then Visser’s time to shine with just over ten minutes to play, after charges from Alex Dunbar, Richie Gray and WP Nel took Scotland to within inches of the French line.

The ball was recycled to Laidlaw who threw a long pass that was brilliantly flicked on by Hogg over his head to Visser, giving the winger the simplest task of diving over the whitewash.

“I remember seeing Stuart doing stuff like that in training and I kind of hoped that he would – that he did is actually a testament to him,” Visser explained.

“He’s a great player and he’s put me away for quite a few tries. I just remember scoring that try and then it put us so far ahead that we almost couldn’t believe what was happening.”

Laidlaw was unable to land the conversion, but it made no difference as Scotland held on to win 29-18 to end a sequence of seven straight Championship defeats at BT Murrayfield.

And Visser remembers the closing moments of the game well, soaking up the atmosphere as the hosts were able to enjoy their 11-point advantage in the last ten minutes.

“When you have those last couple of minutes of a game at international level, it’s normally the time when you start getting really tight as you’re still in a very competitive game,” he said.

“But we had kind of run away with the score enough to be comforted that we would win the game and the feeling was just incredible.

The victory for Scotland confirmed England, who had beaten Wales earlier in the round for their fourth straight win, as champions with the final round of fixtures still to play.

Scotland produced another strong performance in their last game against Ireland in Dublin and despite losing 35-25, they finished the Championship in fourth – ahead of France and Italy.

Scotland: Hogg, Seymour, Taylor, Dunbar, Visser, Russell, Laidlaw; Dickinson, Ford, Nel, R. Gray, J. Gray, Barclay, Hardie, Strauss

Replacements: Horne (for Russell, 5), Wilson (for Strauss, 62), McInally (for Ford, 67), Low (for Nel, 73), Swinson (for R Gray, 77)

Not used: Sutherland, Hidalgo-Clyne, Lamont

France: Spedding, Fofana, Fickou, Mermoz, Vakatawa, Trinh-Duc, Machenaud; Poirot, Guirado, Slimani, Flanquart, Maestri, Camara, Lauret, Chouly

Replacements: Chat (for Guirado, 70), Pelo (for Poirot, 62), Atonio (for Slimani, 62), Vahaamahina (for Flanquart, 51), Goujon (for Camara, 64), Bezy (for Machenaud, 74), Plisson (for Trinh-Duc, 68), Medard (for Mermoz, 68)

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)