Scotland will become the first team to play 500 matches in the tournament, 141 years on from their debut match in the Home Nations Championship against Wales in Edinburgh.

Scotland's Six Nations/Five Nations/Home Nations games so far:

  • 128 v Ireland (59 wins)
  • 128 v Wales (52 wins)
  • 126 v England (42 wins)
  • 93 v France (38 wins)
  • 24 v Italy (17 wins)

England will play their 500th fixture a few hours later on Saturday, at home to Wales. Ireland will hit this landmark number in a fortnight (also at home to Wales) while the Welsh themselves will mark 500 games when they take on France at the Principality Stadium in round four on March 10.

Scotland hit another milestone last weekend, with their 40th win since the championship expanded to become the Six Nations. The first 20 of those victories took 83 matches to collect while the second 20 have arrived in their last 38 fixtures.

France Scouting Report

World Cup Progress: Pool stage: France 27-13 New Zealand, France 27-12 Uruguay, France 96-0 Namibia, France 60-7 Italy; quarter-final: France 28-29 South Africa

It was all going so well for France. In their home World Cup, they headed into a quarter-final having won 25 out of their previous 27 Test matches. They had to face the kings of the one-point win though, who were about to take down the first of three consecutive victims.

The defending champion Springboks outlasted a French side that seemingly had no options at the death other than hoping for an exhausted-looking Antoine Dupont (more on him shortly) to come up with a moment of brilliance to dig out the win.

It’s a tale that’s becoming a little too familiar to fans of the French national team. Despite winning more Six Nations games than any other nation (16 out of 20) during the four years of the last RWC cycle, France had to content themselves with just a single title in 2022 – their first since 2010.

That year featured an admittedly impressive Grand Slam performance but playing second fiddle to England (2020), Wales (2021) and Ireland (2023) underwhelmed for a side boasting some of the world’s best players.

A battering by Ireland in the opening round of this season’s tournament means Les Bleus are already in the position of playing for yet another second place, unless someone else does them a favour and finds a way to turn over the Irish – an ability that has escaped the rest of the Six Nations for almost exactly three years now.

France sans Dupont? 

It’s never going to be easy managing without one of the best players in the world but the tribulations of France in their opening Six Nations’ fixture suggest there are a lot of issues arising from Antoine Dupont’s absence that still need solutions.

For the last five years he had carried the load at scrum half. Playmaker; primary kicking option; dangerous defender; inspirational attacker.

He ran the show on both sides of the ball and even added being captain to his contributions to the team in 2022, further focusing the World Cup hopes of a nation onto one individual.

Scotland Rugby News:

After understudying the great man for a few years, Maxime Lucu was selected to fill the nine jersey for the first match of Dupont’s hiatus – and is expected to retain his place this weekend.

The Bordeaux scrum-half started out well against Ireland with some decent clearing kicks, but quickly faded, with his boot just giving Ireland time and space to work.

He also provided little inspiration around the breakdown and lacked the physicality in defence of the superstar he was tasked with replacing.

Meanwhile the captaincy was piled onto Gregory Alldritt's sizeable shoulders to add to carrying France’s close quarters attack and, frequently, also their defence.

Following back-to-back 30-match seasons for La Rochelle and France, the number eight recently had two months off after the World Cup to try to deal with osteoarthritis in his knee.

Scotland Rugby News: Gregory Alldritt has taken over from Dupont as France captainGregory Alldritt has taken over from Dupont as France captain (Image: SNS)

The rest period is definitely over. In Marseille last Friday he made more carries (20) and completed more tackles (16) than any other player on the pitch.

France even chucked him into the second row for scrums for more than 40 minutes despite having two locks on the bench. It’s a heavy workload for a player who is now expected to skipper the side as well.

Crunching the numbers

France have a relatively poor recent record in Edinburgh, with defeats in five of their last seven outings (in all competitions) after only losing one out of nine between 1996 and 2016.

However, they won comfortably two years ago at Murrayfield in the Six Nations and, more generally, have also tallied 18 victories in their last 24 championship matches with four of the losses coming against Ireland.

The French will be smarting after that most recent defeat by the Irish which potentially makes them even more dangerous opponents on Saturday. They have found it difficult when following up losses though.

Since 2000, excluding matches versus Italy, France have only won twice in seven attempts when they’ve played away in the next round after losing at home.

Last year was the first time Scotland managed to win both of their opening fixtures in the championship since it expanded to the Six Nations.

To repeat that feat in 2024 they’re likely to need to rack up the points. Excluding games versus Ireland, the French have scored at least 20 points in all bar one of their last 34 matches.

They also average 23.4 points per game in Edinburgh during the Six Nations era and haven’t been held tryless at Murrayfield since 1992.

READ MORE: Gregor Townsend expects reaction from wounded France

Scotland notched 25 or more points (and either two or three tries scored) in four of their five recent wins at home to Les Bleus.

Something at that level will surely be required again this weekend which means keeping the scoreboard moving and converting chances against what is normally a very frugal French defence.

Oh, and maybe avoiding conceding 17 penalties or free kicks in a row might also help!


  • Defeat to Ireland last Friday night meant back-to-back Test losses for France for the first time since 2021 when they followed up a rare defeat in Paris against Scotland by going down in the first match of their summer tour versus Australia. The French haven’t lost three internationals in a row for five years.
  • Les Bleus continued to play primarily direct, confrontational rugby, except when the game became unstructured from turnovers and kick returns.
  • Their ratio of 1.28 passes per carry was around 20% lower than Ireland, who aren’t exactly averse to trucking it up themselves but who have developed more variety and width under Andy Farrell.
  • Less than 5% of France’s tackles were dominant in rpund one. It was an area where they needed to be much more forceful to stop Ireland getting on the front foot but couldn’t make the hits or find the energy that Shaun Edwards would have expected from his defence.

Previous results

This will be the 13th time the two sides have played at Murrayfield in a Six Nations’ match. The head to head looks like this from Scotland’s perspective:


Most recent Six Nations’ meeting in Edinburgh: Scotland 17-36 France

Significant stat

41 – the number of rucks set up by France, which was all they required to score six tries (plus two penalties) and win the game comfortably. By contrast, the home side had more than double the number of rucks – 104 – but were only able to parlay all that possession into just two tries (plus one pen) and weren’t really at the races once Gael Fickou crossed just before half-time.

Chasing the game in the second half, the Scots flung pass after pass deep inside their own half as the French were happy to kick the ball long and then allow the dark blues’ attack to founder on an organised and powerful defensive line.

Dealing with the officials

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia, fifth Six Nations match); assistant referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia) and Jordan Way (Australia); TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Scotland Rugby News: Nic Berry is the man in the middle on SaturdayNic Berry is the man in the middle on Saturday (Image: SNS)

Against Wales last weekend, Scotland had Mr O’Keeffe in the middle, a ref with whom they had an excellent previous record - and it all went horribly wrong.

For Saturday’s game versus France, Gregor Townsend's side will be dealing with Mr Berry for the third time in their last eight Tests, a ref with whom their past history is relatively poor.

They can only hope there is a similarly transformative change from what has gone before – just this time working in their favour!

Scotland Rugby News:

Grant Gilchrist has made a particular habit of picking up breakdown penalties from the Australian official.


His expected return to the team for round 2 (following Richie Gray’s injury) will need to be accompanied by a squeaky-clean performance in and around the tackle and ruck areas.

Part two of Kevin's Scotland vs France preview will follow on Friday.