France could have snatched the Six Nations title in the final match but only once – and then briefly – did they look likely to
Paris in the springtime became like a rainy March day in Cardiff. They were perfect conditions for Wales and as Scotland played to them, kicking and harrying, France set out for the four tries and 21-point winning margin they needed to clinch the title, watching it slip from their grasp like the ball they struggled to hold on to.
England’s defence of their title ended in Cardiff when a French referee awarded Wales two disputed tries and France found themselves 10-3 down after 14 minutes when an English official, Wayne Barnes, awarded Duhan van der Merwe a try after a long rolling maul, although the wing needed to make a double movement before grounding the ball on the line.
“The boys found a way to win tonight and I’m so pleased for them after a good season for us. We’ve won six out of our last ten Six Nations game and we just have to keep growing and keep getting better.”
Victorious captain Stuart Hogg:
“We knew what we were about coming into this week, and we’ll be kicking ourselves at some lost games. We enjoyed winning tonight and this has been a squad effort, including the boys who are sitting at home and not allowed to be selected. I’m the captain of a very proud nation and we will continue working hard.”
Wayne Pivac is here, understandably grinning
“The game had everything, but from a Welsh point of view we are over the moon. It’s just a shame we couldn’t do it when were all together last week, but we’ve finished on top in the end. We’re happy with where we are at the moment and I congratulate Gregor on tonight’s performance.”
What a game. What a finish. What a tournament.
I could simple have copy and pasted the above from last week. Hard to believe that in the Autumn people were genuinely writing obituaries for international rugby when you consider what has come since.
Hastings converts it and the game is over.
SCOTLAND WIN IN PARIS FOR FIRST TIME IN 22 YEARS!
80+4 mins. He’s over! the ball comes left from a long pass from Hastings and the van Der Merwe wins it with typical rumbustious rumble over!
80+3 mins. Still Scotland come with wave after wave of short carries that look about as committed as it’s possible to be given how knackered everyone is. Hogg nearly dances through on the right and then Prices is stopped short! 18 Phases of pain!
80+2 mins. The lineout it won, Harris has a carry in midfield but France are holding strong. Shaun Edwards will be having kittens.
80+ 1 mins. The ball is recycled a few times but France steal it and just when we think it’s over they are penalised for sealing off! Scotland have a 5m lineout!
80 mins. Scotland win it and Price send it into midfield. Fagerson inches forward.
79 mins. Possession is traded by some chips over the top before Jamie Ritchie wins a penalty to give his team one last lineout in the France 22 to attack from and grab this match at the death. Maybe..
78 mins. France are working the phases on halfway, it looks nice but it’s very lateral and both sides are containing each other as the time drips away.
75 mins. This game is coming apart at the seams! When it all settles down there’s a scrum that Scotland collapse and France clear it up to halfway.
Whatever else happens here one thing that is certain: Wales will be Six Nations champions.
73 mins. Scotland have brought Adam Hastings on at fly-half and his first job will be to kick to the corner for a lineout penalty after Romain Taofifenua is yellow carded as it’s another penalty in the 22.
71 mins. Yep. That type of action with your arm from a card point of view is redder than a baboon’s arse. Off he goes.
Ben Kayser on comms is attempting to say Dulin was too high in the tackle, which is utter nonsense and doesn’t help. At all.
70 mins. More patient possession from Scotland comes right to Russell who drives into Dulin and looks to have clearly led with his elbow into the fullback’s neck. The ref and TMO are having a look and this will be a red card....
69 mins. A solid and patient period of Scotland possession in the France 22 ends in a penalty given against Dupont. It’s an easy three point chance but Russell, in conversation with Hogg, puts it in the corner - which would be fine if the lineout wasn’t completely mangled straight after, but Scotland will have another chance as France, having pilfered the ball, can only clear to touch once more.
67 mins. More subs for Scotland
Huw Jones replaces Darcy Graham Ryan Wilson on for Haining
66 mins. France are back in the Scottish 22 and the penalties start again for visitors. Alldritt is stopped dead on the line but on another advantage play Rebbadj is over from short.
Ntamack pulls the conversion left.
63 mins. Subs
FRANCE Teddy Thomas for Vakatawa Jean-Baptiste Gros for Baille Uini Atonio for Haouas Romain Taofifenua for Bernard Le Roux Dylan Cretin on for Jelonch
62 mins. No knock and and it’s given!
Finn Russell puts his side in from once more from the tee.
60 mins. Scotland win a lineout and Dave Cherry grabs a ball as it pops out of the lineout to ground it. There’s a potential knock on that they want to check, but it look like it was Rebbadj who ripped it out backwards rather than a Scotland fumble.
59 mins. Dave Cherry is on for George Turner and he finds his jumper in his first lineout. The maul gets going, France are penalised for collapsing it and Russell again goes to the corner.
58 mins. All the pressure tells for Scotland as France again are penalised, this time for Vakatawa sealing off. Russell this time puts it out for a lineout in the corner.
56 mins. Sam Johnson takes the ball on a great angle off the lineout and is galloping into the French 22 before the scramble defence swamps him. Camille Chat - on for Marchand - then drives huge dominant tackle backwards but Scotland reset and patiently start to build phases again
54 mins. A deep kick from Price puts Dulin under pressure but he snaps a pass to Penaud who glides from his own line up and out of his 22. The ball is recycled and goes all the way left through hands before Fickou is this close to gathering a Dupont chip over the top. That’s from the own line to nearly scoring in the space of seconds.
52 mins. Turner is OK and he’s taking part in Scotland’s first period of possession in the France 22. They are into double figures with the phases before France drift offside to allow Russell to reduce the deficit from the tee.
49 mins. Finn Russell tries a snap drop goal of virtually no set up, but it drifts left. There’s a break in play while Turner receives some treatment, and Hogg has returned to the field.
47 mins. Dulin goes quickly from a marked kick and sends it right to Vakatawa to step and pop a filthy back of the hand offload to Penaud who chips the ball over the top., chases it and scores despite Price tackling him early without the ball.
Ntamack can’t convert this time.
45 mins. Fickou carries the ball 20 metres by pumping his legs and staying up as Scotland wrap tacklers around him. It puts France into the Scottish 5m line and they move the ball right then left but the visitors’ defence cover it all solidly before Scotland finally win a penalty of their own! Great, confidence building, couple of minutes for the defence there.
42 mins. In the absence of Hogg, Sam Johnson drift into his familiar position of arriving the 13 channel to put the boot on it. The only difference is that Johnson did a full air kick as he attempted to drop the ball onto his foot, and his team are now defending a French attack.
40 mins. PEEEP! Forty minutes or so from this all coming to end, both tonight and across the channel.
Surely the happiest people right now are all Welsh? This doesn’t look like four-try, 21-point spread game at all.
Half time musings.
A tale of two games for Scotland; one with the ball, the other without. Ball in hand they were consummate in the rain with Russell dictating field position and tempo; take the ball away and they’re a penalty vending machine that look distinctly overpowered. France are back in front entire due to the latter issue and Gregor Townsend needs a plan to defend better that he can put into action in the next ten minutes
40 mins. France have a lineout in the Scotland 22 as one last attack but it’s nicked by Gilchrist and the ball is gratefully booted off the field to end half.
39 mins. Ollivon robs the ball from the Scottish midfield and feed Alldritt who breaks the tackle to rampage into the the 22 before he’s stopped. The ball comes right trough hands to Penaud and Hogg is off his feet at the ruck to get himself ten minutes rest.
37 mins. Oh you have to love this French team. While everyone expected another big shove and carry, Dupont quickly fires it out for a long floated pass to Penaud who feints past van der Merwe and pops it to Dulin to score.
Ntamack adds a remarkable two points for way out right.
35 mins. Big carry by Alldritt from base of scrum is stopped by Ali Price hanging onto one foot for all he’s worth. The short carries start again from France and Scotland are offside, then offside again a couple of phases later.
That’s six penalties on the bounce for Scotland and Ref Barnes has given them a formal warning that next time it’s a card. I’m amazed it’s still in his pocket after the sheer number of penalties in the 22.
33 mins. Short lineout is won by France but the maul isn’t formed solidly so Dupont starts conducting their attack on the Scotland 5m line. A series of short carries makes little ground but Scotland are offside and Ollivon signals he wants a scrum under the posts.
France need four tries and so far they have zero.
31 mins. An attacking maul for France wins another penalty and on the advantage the ball is worked all the way right to Penaud, but it’s too lateral and Scotland defend it. However, we’ll come all the way back to the other side of the field for the penalty and France opt for the lineout in the corner.
27 mins. The scrum mojo appears to have returned for Les Bleusas Cyrille Baille drives through Fagerson to splinter the Scots’ scrum and win a penalty for his side.
Ntamack strokes it over from 40 metres.
25 mins. France finally have a chance to breathe a little after Marchand jackals Jamie Ritchie to win a penalty. However, the lineout on halfway is wasted as Dupont’s pass to Vakatawa on the crash ball is forward.
23 mins. A massive shove from the Scotland pack has Dupont under all sorts of pressure as he claws to get the ball out of a rapidly crumbling scrum. He manages to get the ball to Dulin and they finally exit via the boot to touch. But, all this will do is invite the visitors back at them.
The scrum, France’s clear area of domination so far, is now starting to work against them also.
21 mins. Anything Finn Russell can do, Hogg can do better as the Scotland captain hits a glorious spiral kick that bobbles into touch on the France 5m line. Sam Skinner manages to rip the ball and for a brief second it looks like Ali Price may be able to get in the corner to score before France scramble and a couple of phases later Scotland knock on.
France have the scrum but they remain deep in their own territory as Scotland play the conditions beautifully.
18 mins. Scotland are back on the ball and Finn Russell, who is looking very relaxed so far, clips a fabulous diagonal kick that France have to play on their own line. Dulin is caught by a fast Scottish chase and Jamie Ritchie clamps on to win the penalty in the shadow of the posts.
Russell steps up and extends the lead.
15 mins. From the lineout it’s a solid carry from Turner again that puts Scotland within inches before the big winger comes in to do his trademark power to ground it and score. There was a suspicion of double movement. More than a suspicion actually, but the ref is happy and Russell adds the extras.
Brilliant response to going behind.
14 mins. A huge carry from George Turner peeling around the lineout crashes his team up into the 22 and Scotland follow up with more dynamic pick and go runs. France are offside and Russell puts it in touch for yet another lineout. Confident stuff from Scotland
12 mins. Scotland respond well by winning a solid lineout and getting the maul rolling which forces Jelonch to creep around the side to try and stop it. He’s penalised and Scotland will have a go from another lineout, this time on the France 22.
9 mins. First scrum of the match and Scotland collapse it giving Ntamack the opportunity to put his side in front from the tee, which he calmly takes.
8 mins. The game has settled into a succession of two drives in followed by a kick. It produces little for either side until Fickou beats Hogg to a catch on the Scotland 22 allowing Ntamack to slide the ball into the visitors’ in-goal. Van Der Merwe is first to it but he’s swarmed all over and France have a 5m scrum
5 mins. There’s a knock-on in the French midfield that snuffs out their promising attacking position in the Scottish half. Some probing kicks from both Russell and Ntamack end with a Scottish lineout around halfway.
3 min. Finn Russell send a delicious, drilled skidding kick into touch near the French line. Les Bleus opt to take the lineout quickly and run it from deep with little success before finally putting boot to it. On their return attack Scotland are penalised for Chris Harris not releasing.
1 min. Stuart Hogg sends the ball high through the droplets and we’re underway. France safely claim the kick off before clearing upfield via the boot of Dulin.
“Oh goodness how my heart always beats hard in these matches.” says Nicholas Tilson. “I’m a born Scot who has lived in France since I migrated here 25 years ago. Can we please have a draw that France win by 21 points?”
Honestly Nicolas, I wouldn’t rule anything out.
The team are on their way out of the tunnel into a swirling Paris rain. We’re very close to the last eighty minutes or so of this entertaining, baffling 2021 outing for the Six Nations
It’s a Friday night, there are no pubs you can go to and you’re probably either alone or completely fed up with the company of those you live with. So you might as well email me or tweet @bloodandmud to have someone else to talk to if nowt else.
A number of changes all round for both teams.
Fabien Galthie has taken the odd decision of moving Gaël Fickou - arguably the player of the tournament - from his position at 12 and defensive captain out onto the wing; a move that will bring Arthur Vincent into the team. Elsewhere in the backline, Romain Ntamack is back to spread his coiffured musk all over the fixture and reunite his half-back dream pairing with Dupont.
Pre-match reading dept.
Stuart Hogg understandably would like to talk about other things than France winning tonight.
And so it is, just like you said it would be... Paris on a Friday night a week after the tournament was due to finish with the visiting team shorn of players because they haven’t been released by the English league; the other team at full strength and making an International Waffle Day meme out of how we’ve all ended up here. Oldest story in the world, eh?
Of course, interest is not just here in France, as back in Wales from Barry to Bagillt all eyes and hearts fix on this match as the #Jampionship of Wayne Pivac’s men hangs in the balance.
Last gasp try gives visitors first win in Paris since 1999
Wales are the worthy 2021 Six Nations champions but only after a damp night of nail-chewing and tense mathematics in Paris - with a final twist. From first to last this has been an eventful championship involving a rollercoaster of emotions and the final instalment was no exception, Scotland sealing a first win in Paris since 1999 to prevent France from winning an unlikely title.
As with last week’s thriller between France and Wales, the drama was seldom less than gripping despite the rain. Nor could anyone accuse a fired-up Scotland of failing to preserve the integrity of the tournament or playing only a bit-part role. Has the best side won the tournament? The scoreboard rarely lies and, after five relentlessly competitive rounds, only the churlish would claim excessive good fortune has been involved.
Les Bleus must win by 21 points or more to deny Wales
‘As a proud Scotsman that hurt me a lot,’ says Hogg
It is International Waffle Day on Thursday and, just in case it is not marked in the diary, the French Rugby Federation provided a timely reminder on social media. It was at best tongue-in-cheek, more accurately in questionable taste and a reference to how members of the France team were found to have eaten at a waffle restaurant in breach of Covid-19 protocols earlier in the tournament, following an investigation into an outbreak in their squad. The outbreak, lest we forget, that resulted in their match against Scotland being postponed and rearranged for Friday night.
Should Fabien Galthié’s team play with the same audacity, the delayed climax to this year’s Six Nations will not disappoint. But spare a penny for the thoughts of the French government and tournament organisers and all those involved in brokering the financial arrangement to ensure five of Scotland’s England-based players are available. Gregor Townsend has described the agreement as “satisfactory” – because as of last Saturday morning he was facing the prospect of having none of them at his disposal – but you cannot escape the fact that Scotland are not at full strength in Paris.