2023 Scotland vs France - Men's

France Vs. Scotland Preview: Dupont Returns In Full Loaded French Team

France Vs. Scotland Preview: Dupont Returns In Full Loaded French Team

Scotland will travel to Saint Etienne to face France in a pre-Rugby World Cup warm-up test match, with regular captain Antoine Dupont returning.

Aug 11, 2023 by Philip Bendon
France Vs. Scotland Preview: Dupont Returns In Full Loaded French Team

As the great Nelson Mandela said, “Keep your friends close and your rivals even closer.” 

In the case of Six Nations rivals Scotland and France, this sentiment could not be more relevant. 

Few rivalries have enjoyed a back-and-forth duel over the past years, like Scotland and France. 

Facing each other 10 times since 2018, including a pre-2019 Rugby World Cup doubleheader in 2019, the sides are split at five wins apiece. 

This ding-dong nature never was more present than last weekend’s meeting between the two. 

Leading 21-3 at halftime, France looked home and dry at Murrayfield, only to be caught napping by a furious Scottish comeback. 

In the end, Gregor Townsend’s men would complete yet another famous comeback to edge the fixture 25 -21, keeping their visitors scoreless in the second half.

Making the comeback even more impressive was that the Scots played with 14-man for the bulk of the second 40, with Zander Fagerson shown a red card for a reckless challenge. 

While France fielded a largely experimental side in Edinburgh, the inability to close out such a substantial lead will be of concern to Fabien Galthie and his coaching staff. 

This clearly was shown in the French selection for this weekend, as they brought back all of their big-name players for the reverse fixture in Saint-Étienne on Saturday. 

In total, Galthie has made 13 changes to his side, with regular captain, and arguably the best player in the world, Antoine Dupont returning. 

Joining Dupont is his longtime club and international halfback partner Romain Ntamack. Perhaps the most influential halfback pairing in the international game at the moment, the duo will offer a structure that was clearly missing in the second half at Murrayfield. 

Key Matchup

Offering much-needed carrying power in the midfield, Jonathan Danty and Gael Fickou will square off with one of the in-form partnerships in international rugby in Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones. 

This clash will offer an interesting subplot, as the two pairings bring vastly different skill sets to the table. 

For France, Danty and Fickou bring a no-nonsense hard running balance to an otherwise glitzy balance. This is not to say they don’t possess world-class skill sets, but more that they are the key to the French backline getting over the gain with regularity. 

Tuipulotu and Jones are by no means shrinking violets, but both are foils to Finn Russell, who utilize a full box of tricks, from short kicks to subtle offloads, to release the powerhouse and pacey Scottish back three. 


With so many changes made to both sides (Scotland has changed six) from last weekend’s clash, a rather disjointed performance from both is not out of the realm of possibility. 

Yet, in saying this, both sides will fancy themselves as contenders for the Rugby World Cup title in a few weeks. 

France, in particular, with its first-choice team, will need to get up to speed quickly, as its opening match against a red-hot All Blacks side Sept. 8 will be crucial for the pool standings.

Scotland, likewise, will have a tough start to the tournament, facing reigning world champion South Africa. 

However, unlike France, Scotland still still face two further big challenges in Ireland and Tonga, before any potential playoff matches. 

Thus, gaining confidence with their respective first-choice outfits this weekend is crucial. 

On paper, the French hold the edge across the board and, in particular, up front in the forward department. 

Simply put, outside of perhaps Ireland and South Africa, no side in World Rugby has been able to contain the French pack over the past two seasons. 

Oozing with talent and stacked to the gills with depth, France now has the firepower to replicate the South African “bomb squad” and, as such, will not take the foot off the gas in terms of physicality for the full 80 minutes. 

This for Scotland is the perfect primer for its clash with the Springboks and Ireland, two sides that have physically beaten them up in recent years. 

Due to the disparity in power between the two sides, France, with its full array of talent, should have too much for Townsend’s side this weekend. France by 15.