Six Nations

Noves frustrated by French fumbling

Guy Noves (Getty)
Guy Noves (Getty)

Edinburgh - France coach Guy Noves was left shaking his head and deriding his players for their stumbling Six Nations performance on Sunday in the 29-18 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield.

The defeat was the first for France against Scotland in 10 years and it shattered any hopes they had of denying unbeaten England the title when the two sides play the tournament finale in Paris in six days' time.

"On a purely technical level we were very poor in this match," the former Toulouse chief said.

"We made far too many faults - between the handling errors and the number of penalties that we gave away.

"Under these conditions we were not able to apply any pressure on the Scottish team for any length of time.

"Periodically we played some quality rugby and scored two tries. But we made too many silly mistakes.

"It's a big let-down for us, but in some way it reassures me because we did not play at the level we can produce."

The defeat at Murrayfield comes hard on the heels of the loss to Wales in Cardiff two weeks ago and it underlines the task facing Noves at a troubled time for French rugby still smarting from the humiliation at the hands of the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter-finals in October.

Long seen as a potential French national coach after his years of success at Toulouse, Noves has made the jump from club to country late in his career and not everyone is convinced that at 62 he is the right man for the job, with the next World Cup still over three years away.

Noves, however, insists that patience is the key.

"They are a squad of young players who are trying to compete at a very high level," he said.

"But we can still make progress because they are young and because they can move forward together. They are going to learn and advance. You have to be patient. We have no other choice."

As for the tournament closer next Saturday at the Stade de France, Noves said that it would be an ideal occasion to finish the international season in style by denying England the Grand Slam in Eddie Jones's first year as coach.

"Firstly we must hope that we will play better than we did today and I don't think that should be too difficult," he said.

"Even if our opponents will be of a different (higher) level, I think that the French team will be very eager to show what they can do because we really did not do that today.

"I hope we can show that we have a bright future and that these players will put in the hard work and will make progress in the coming months."

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