Six Nations

Scotland aim to crash France's Six Nations title bid and birthday parties

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Charles Ollivon of France looks dejected following his side's Six Nations defeat against Scotland at Murrayfield on 8 March 2020 (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Charles Ollivon of France looks dejected following his side's Six Nations defeat against Scotland at Murrayfield on 8 March 2020 (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers

France are 80 minutes away from a first Six Nations title in more than a decade but host a Scotland side aiming to gate crash the party as well as the birthday celebrations of two French stars.

Winger Gael Fickou turns 27 and replacement prop Uini Atonio 31 on Friday as France try to claim a first Championship since 2010 with a four-try victory of more than 20 points.

If they fail to do so Wales will win the trophy, a sixth tournament success since 2005.

"The main thing to do is to give them nice presents," home captain Charles Ollivon said on Thursday.

"But before celebrating anything we need to play well and win the game," he added.

Fickou, the most capped player in the set-up, has been moved from centre for the fixture rescheduled from February 28 after a Covid-19 outbreak in the France camp.

The Stade Francais three-quarter has missed just two games since Fabien Galthie was appointed head coach after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and is the side's defensive captain.

"He's a formidable part of this team. He's someone who brings a lot every day. On the field he's at the summit of his play right now," Ollivon said.

"He doesn't talk too much. When he speaks, everyone listens. He's someone we can all depend on," he added.

Toulon flanker Ollivon was appointed skipper by Galthie after having played just 11 Tests and said he had yet to think about his pre-match speech.

"Sincerely with my words there's a lot of instinct. We've already spoken a lot about this match during the week. We've prepared well," he said.

"We spoke about all the aspects of the match. The quality of the opponents mean we have to be consistent for 80 minutes," he added.

'Grow arms and legs'

The fixture will be played at an empty Stade de France due to coronavirus restrictions in Paris.

The visitors captain Stuart Hogg said it will benefit his side as they eye a first win in the French capital since 1999.

"They won't have the home advantage. If France get up then the atmosphere is electric and they seem to grow arms and legs and have players everywhere. They won't have that," Hogg said.

Hogg's men have their own ambitions as they can finish a Scotland record of second in the Six Nations table with a win of more than eight points.

"What we've talked about is creating our own energy within our own bubble and making sure that bubble won't be burst," he added.

"Our primary focus is to get the job done, to get the win and make sure we're in very good positions. We've talked about different scenarios," he said.

Kick-off is at 22:00 (SA time) on Friday.

Teams:

France

15 Brice Dulin, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Arthur Vincent, 11 Gael Fickou, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Anthony Jelonch, 5 Swann Rebbadj, 4 Bernard le Roux, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julian Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille

Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Dylan Cretin, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Anthony Bouthier, 23 Teddy Thomas

Scotland

15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Rory Sutherland

Substitutes: 16 David Cherry, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Huw Jones

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