Six Nations

France must beat Scotland to keep Six Nations title race alive

France require a 10th successive victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday in order to stop England being crowned Six Nations champions.

Eddie Jones' team claimed a fourth successive victory when they beat second-placed Wales 25-21 at Twickenham on Saturday, putting them on the brink of the title they last claimed in 2011.

Despite a 19-10 loss to Wales in their previous outing, France are now the only side capable of catching Grand Slam-chasing England, who they entertain at the Stade de France in the final match of the competition on March 19.

In order to have a chance of taking the title for the first time since 2010, France must win their final two games and overturn a point differential of 58.

A high-scoring victory over Scotland would provide a momentous boost and set up a crunch finale against England, but head coach Guy Noves is wary of Vern Cotter's side following their 36-20 win over Italy last time out.

"We are still in the early stages of our development. We have set out on a path and we will go down it with a strong group of 35 or 40 guys," said Noves.

"They [Scotland] are taking on a certain dimension and that is down to Vern Cotter. He gives them confidence despite some of the results.

"You can see a team which is evolving and progressing, so that again could be an example for our own rugby."

Francois Trinh-Duc – the most capped player in the France squad, set for his 52nd appearance – has been drafted into the XV as one of six changes for the visitors.

Cotter, meanwhile, has brought Alex Dunbar and Josh Strauss back into his Scotland line-up, though centre Matt Scott has been ruled out of the competition with an elbow injury.

The New Zealander is eager for his side to make a positive start as they look to overcome Les Bleus on their own patch for the first time in over 10 years.

"We'd like to start well against the French and if we can keep the ball from them and stop them accessing the game the way they like, which will be good," said Cotter.

"You can see from the way France were playing, they like to get the ball wide. They create space by doing that and if you give them space they will cut you apart.

"They have ball winners and ball carriers and it will be a tough game. We will need to keep them behind the advantage line as much as we can but that will be difficult to contain."


Key Opta stats:
- France have won 15 of the 16 meetings between these two sides in the Six Nations including the last nine in a row, last losing to Scotland at Murrayfield in 2006.
- Scotland have conceded just 28 penalties in the Six Nations this year, fewer than any other side, however they have been shown two yellow cards – England are the only other side to be carded this year.
- France have scored at least one try in each of their last 11 matches at Murrayfield against Scotland, a run dating back to 1992.
- Jonny Gray has made 48 tackles this year, the second most of any player and the most of any player yet to miss a hit; he has made 100 tackles in the Six Nations since he last missed one, the longest current run of any player in this year's competition.
- Two tries for France in this game would see them score their 200th in the Six Nations era; Scotland in contrast need four to record a century and are the only team yet to reach 100 tries in the competition.