Scotland coach AB Zondagh wary of France threat

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Scotland assistant coach AB Zondagh knows exactly what dangers France pose ahead of a meeting between the two at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

Scotland assistant coach AB Zondagh knows exactly what dangers France pose ahead of a meeting between the two at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

Scotland have won their last two Championship meetings, with a 28-17 victory in Edinburgh in 2020 and a thrilling 27-23 triumph at the Stade de France last spring.

However, France are the only unbeaten side in the 2022 Guinness Six Nations and are considered favourites to win their first Championship since 2010.

Zondagh, who joined Gregor Townsend’s coaching staff six months ago, believes not much can be read into past results after Les Bleus’ recent run of form.

“I don’t think we can read too much into the past. France have evolved as a team and we’ve changed ourselves as a team,” he said.

“It’s a new task in hand and it’s going to be a different game. We just have to be prepared for the challenge.

“France are a very good team. They’ve beaten New Zealand, Ireland and Italy. They could be considered the best team at the moment. So, it’s going to be a tough challenge.

“We’re going to have to pitch up and concentrate for 80 minutes. We’re preparing to face up to the challenge although it will be a tough game I’m sure.”

Two of France’s biggest threats are Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, who both impressed in the Round 1 victory over Italy and the Round 2 win against Ireland.

And Zondagh is fully aware of just how good the duo are, having coached them at Toulouse before joining Townsend’s national setup.

Dupont and Ntamack have been instrumental for France in recent years, and for Toulouse when winning the Top 14 and Heineken Champions Cup in 2021, though Zondagh believes France possess great depth outside of them.

He said: “I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing to know what threats they bring but their quality is obvious. It is something we are going to have to deal with and we will have to see what happens with both of them.

“The way they perform during games speaks for itself. They are world class. Antoine is not nominated for the best player in the world for no reason. I won’t be speaking to them this week, we don’t speak that much.

“France is a team that plays as a team. They don’t rely on just one or two individuals. Dupont can break and open up a game and add seven points here and there but they are a quality side across the board. It is not just individuals we have to look out for.

“They’ve obviously been playing together for a long time and they understand each other – they click well on the field. But there’s a lot of quality in that French team. When a guy like Matthieu Jalibert is on the field he brings a different skill set and different strengths.

“But they definitely have a good link as a nine and ten on the field. They are a dangerous pair and they’re players that we’ll watch – but not more or less than we will watch every single other player in the team.”

“France are a very dynamic team and they can target certain areas of the game for certain opposition. The breakdown is a massively important area for the game and we’ll need to be squeaky clean in terms of our support, linking and looking after the ball.

“We’ll have to be really sharp. But we know what their threats are. We’ll be prepared.”