A place alongside some of the best teams in Scottish history invites the new model of Gregor Townsend’s tartan army on Sunday, at least statistically speaking.
A sixth consecutive victory, which would be a fifth in a row over France at Murrayfield, would place this team in the illustrious company of the 1925 and 1990 Grand Slam winning teams as the only Scottish teams to win six straight games since the turn. of the 20th century.
Last week’s comeback victory over Italy in Florence equaled the best domestic streak of the professional era in 2011, but the Blues’ visit provides a litmus test of progress.
With Scotland’s game against Fiji next Saturday, another coronavirus victim and France hosting Italy in their last fall Nations Cup group game, it tastes like a half-go shootout. -final. The winner of Sunday’s competition is expected to advance to the final of the competition in a fortnight, where England could be on the prowl at Twickenham.
But Scotland have already fallen into the trap of getting ahead of themselves and their captain, Stuart Hogg, insists they don’t think beyond the kickoff.
“We are aware of what is potentially at stake,” said full-back Exeter, who will win their 79th cap. “But we are focusing on the first 20 minutes. We will take it quarter by quarter. We cannot look too far or we will go wrong. We have to be there from the first minute. Hopefully the French get tired and we can really bring them the game. We need to be able to keep chasing them over and over again and not get bored.
A loss to Fabien Galthié’s side, possibly the fit team of world rugby, wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of Scotland’s resurgence. The foundations are laid this year – a defense that has conceded seven tries in seven games, a hugely improved scrum (despite wobbling against Italy last week), a roster maul who brought in half a dozen tries over the last three games and a greater emphasis on playing in the right areas – all bodes well for future success.
Hogg acknowledges the new taste for defensive tasks holds the key against a French side that miss half-fly Romain Ntamack – Matthieu Jalibert will replace – but still has a wealth of offensive talent from Thomas Ramos at the back via center Virimi Vakatawa and scrum half Antoine Dupont to super charged whore Camille Chat.
“They have world-class talent all over the court and we know the defense will win us this game,” Hogg said. ” [Defence coach] Steve Tandy brought a whole new perspective to the way we defend. The most important thing is to take that trust, turn it into a belief, and really take it out on France. We want people to come off the bridge and smash pieces of guys, continuing over and over again. Teams will eventually collapse.
“If we keep chasing them, they’ll get bored and kick the ball to us. This is what we want. With each kick from France, we will see it as a small victory because they no longer want to attack. They put 30 points in front of the teams. It is a challenge we will not hide from. We will meet fire and fire and enjoy it.