Townsend expects better after defeat in France

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was frustrated with his side’s performance in their opening test against France.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was frustrated with his side’s performance in their opening test against France.

France used their physicality and offloading capability to secure a five-try win against Townsend’s side who lost 32-3 in Nice.

It was Scotland’s first match since they retained the Calcutta Cup in March and this match echoed the result of their 2019 Guinness Six Nations encounter, where France ran out 27-10 winners.

Townsend believes the performance will be a learning curve for the squad and hopes they can improve before they reach the World Cup.

“We expected a better performance. There’s a lot of work to do,” Townsend said.

“We go into every game – no matter the opponent – with the goal of winning and we believed as a coaching and playing group that we were well-prepared for that game, so obviously that wasn’t correct.

“We missed parts of the first-half just from not being in place quick enough to stop France getting quick ball, and then not capitalising on opportunities we did have in the first-half.

“We’ll be better for that experience, but we’ve got to be much, much better in terms of our performance over the next three games and obviously when we get to Japan.”

Despite the loss, Scotland will be looking to bounce back in next weekend’s rematch when France travel to Murrayfield.

Townsend has yet to formalise his squad for Japan and is using these test matches as a chance to try out combinations with the World Cup in mind, but he expects a reaction from his players.

“These games are, first of all, an opportunity to win for your country, and second to give players match conditioning and opportunities to make that final squad, but also to look at combinations that can be of benefit to the world cup,” Townsend added.

“The team was going to change a lot going into next week’s game, so some players won’t get the opportunity to rectify it [the performance in Nice] next week.

“It’s a timely reminder to those who are playing their first game of the season how tough international rugby can be if you’re not switched on and you don’t make your tackles.

“That’s what happened a few times, so we’re demanding a reaction from our players and they’ll be demanding it, so let’s move on to actions and behaviours rather than words.

“That will be the target this week – to show a much truer image of what we’re capable of.”