World Rugby

France Vs. Scotland Six Nations Preview: Can Les Bleus Recover From Defeat?

France Vs. Scotland Six Nations Preview: Can Les Bleus Recover From Defeat?

Scotland will host France in the 2024 Guinness Six Nations following a one-point win over Wales in Cardiff in Round 1. Here is the Scotland-France preview.

Feb 8, 2024 by Briar Napier
France Vs. Scotland Six Nations Preview: Can Les Bleus Recover From Defeat?

France and Scotland had opposite results in their opening Six Nations matches last weekend.

But they may have had similar post-match feelings.

While Scotland finally beat Wales in Cardiff for the first time since 2002, the caveat is that it just barely pulled it off, after almost squandering a massive first-half lead. 

France had no win to celebrate, simply getting run off the park by Ireland in a match with plenty of hype surrounding it, but there wasn't a lot about Les Bleus’ performance to be hyped about.

What will Round 2 bring with those two squads set to clash? 

Well, with France featuring the more talented squad but going to a venue where it has not been easy for it to win, that’s anyone’s guess.

But the Six Nations always delivers somehow, and expect much of the same in Scotland this weekend, as the table begins to shake out the pretenders from the contenders.

Here’s a look at what to expect with France vs. Scotland this weekend, part of FloRugby’s ongoing coverage and analysis of the 2024 Six Nations:

Team News


Despite the misfortune that hit in Marseille in Round 1, this still is an awesome French squad going to Murrayfield. 

Coach Fabien Galthie has decided not to totally overhaul the squad, despite Ireland pulling off its bigges away win against France on the opening weekend, which surprisingly sees his team sit bottom of the Six Nations table after the first matches. 

The two changes to the starting lineup come at differing positions; Bordeaux wing Louis Bielle-Biarrey, the 20-year-old emerging superstar who has been lighting it up for club and country over the past year, will replace Yoram Moefana on the left wing to team with Thomas Ramos and Damian Penaud and make up what could be a devastating back line. 

Meanwhile, in the second row, Racing 92 lock Cameron Woki is in by necessity, after Paul Willemse, who was sent off against Ireland, was handed a suspension that will see him miss France’s matches against Scotland and Italy. 

Still, keep an additional eye on 19-year-old lock Posolo Tuilagi and how he’s used in the pack now that France has to reach into its depth in the second row, after both he and scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec got their maiden senior international caps against Ireland. 

Gregory Alldritt once again will captain Les Bleus at No. 8, while other parts of the French setup, the front row and midfield, also remain unchanged, whereas replacement back-rower Alexandre Roumat could be in line to make his France debut off of the bench.


After a helter-skelter victory away at Wales — its first win in Cardiff in 22 years — Scotland will return home for the first time in this year’s Six Nations to what should be another strong atmosphere at Murrayfield, though it must avoid a letdown against a dangerous French squad out for redemption. 

As expected, flanker and co-captain Rory Darge is back in coach Gregor Townsend’s XV after missing time (including the Wales match) due to a knee injury. 

But in a stunning move, fellow back-rower Jamie Ritchie — who captained Scotland at the Rugby World Cup — has been cut from the matchday squad entirely, being the main man axed from the 23, after Scotland’s near-second half collapse against Wales. The Scots almost blew a 27-0 lead at the Millenium Stadium. 

Matt Fagerson will switch from No. 8 to the blindside flanker spot (originally held by Luke Crosbie, who is out for the rest of the competition due to injury) corresponding to Darge’s return and Ritchie’s omission, and the Australia-born Jack Dempsey will arrive off of the bench as Scotland’s new starting No. 8. 

Veteran lock Richie Gray is out for the rest of the Six Nations with a bicep injury suffered against Wales, so Grant Gilchrist will come in to pair with Scott Cummings in the second row. 

Scotland’s starting front row, back line and midfield won’t change, with fly-half Finn Russell again wearing the armband. The only fresh face on the bench is Saracens' back-rower Andy Christie.  

Key Head-To-Head Factors

Both teams vs. discipline

Scotland and France each struggled to stay cool, calm and collected in major stretches of their Six Nations openers last week, and each suffered for it. 

In Scotland’s case, it narrowly escaped the dishonor of giving up what would’ve been the largest comeback in Six Nations history, had Wales found just a few more points late, which merely piled on to over two decades of misery in Cardiff for the Scots, before they held on for good, barely, to pick up the win. 

With France against Ireland — most notably through Willemse’s double yellow after arguably being spared from a red after his first infraction — it seemed off-kilter, flat and lacking much of the precision and perseverance that had it considered by many to be Rugby World Cup favorites less than a year ago, perhaps indicating that Les Bleus miss star man Antoine Dupont (who is not playing in the Six Nations as he prepares with France’s sevens team for the Olympics) more than we know. 

The victor at Murrayfield might just come down to whichever side decides to arrive on the pitch and play an 80-minute match, because neither squad provided that at all in Round 1. 

But with motivations to do so in each dressing room, as Scotland tries to make it two on the bounce in front of home support, and France tries to reestablish itself as a contender for the title, who seizes the opportunity and is clinical from opening kick to final whistle is up for the taking.


France has never lost three matches in a row under Galthie, and Les Bleus won’t hit that dubious milestone this weekend. 

The victory this weekend will not come without some difficulty; Murrayfield has, in recent times, been a tricky place for France to win, with Scotland actually winning five of the past seven fixtures at its national stadium against Les Bleus dating back to 2016. 

The difference now is that this time around, after a disappointing performance and a point to prove after failing to win what many thought to be the early Six Nations/Grand Slam decider, France is out for blood. 

It won’t be staying in Wooden Spoon territory very long, as it will have a resounding win in Edinburgh, picking up a bonus point in the meantime, as the electric Bielle-Biarrey has one of his best games yet in a France shirt, continuing to build off of his white-hot form as of late. 

And, as much as France was run off of the pitch for most of the night in Marseille, it will do the same to a shellshocked Scotland, as its errors and missteps from the second half of the Wales match rear their heads.

A return to the top of the Six Nations could be in doubt, depending on what the favored Ireland does the rest of the way, but France won’t be hurting its standing any more in Round 2.

France 38, Scotland 19

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