Scotland co-captain Rory Darge expects France to draw on emotion and bring a big physical challenge when they visit Scottish Gas Murrayfield tomorrow. 

Even before a red card to lock Paul Willemse, Fabien Galthie's side were a shadow of themselves as they were swept aside by Ireland in the Six Nations opener in Marseille last Friday night. 

But Darge, whose return from a knee injury is one of three changes to the team that won in Cardiff last weekend, knows the visitors to Edinburgh will be eager to put right their below-par performance, and avoid a third successive defeat in all competitions. 

He said: "It’s a big challenge, they’re obviously going to have a big reaction after last week. 

“They'll probably be disappointed with the result and the way they played as well, so they’ll come to show what they’re about. 

“I’ve played France a few times, and there are always one or two of them who have a really good game. They’ll be looking to show more of that.” 

When the Glasgow flanker was injured in the 1872 Cup derby Edinburgh in December, his club boss Franco Smith said he was “devastated” for the 23-year-old, suggesting it may be a long-term injury.  

READ MORE: Six Nations dreams revived for Rory Darge after injury fears

But six weeks on, Darge will lead out Scotland as they look to maintain a strong recent record against Les Bleus.  

Gregor Townsend’s side have won five of the last seven matches against France at Murrayfield, the exceptions the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup clash and the Six Nations meeting two years ago.  

Darge insists he is ready to go – and could even have played in Cardiff last weekend had he been called upon – despite initial fears. 

He said: "The mechanism of it, I was worried, but pretty soon after I was like, ‘this doesn’t actually feel too bad’. 

“Then you wait for the scan and you’re thinking, ‘it’s not too bad’ but there are always doubts, so I was delighted when I got the scan back. 

“I’ve done that ligament before and the last time I did it, I did it a bit worse than this time so it’s not something I’m carrying a concern into the game about.” 

“They’ve always been good games to be involved in. I’ve always loved playing them - it’s always a big physical challenge, but that’s what rugby is about and that’s what we enjoy about the game. 

Darge, who made a try-scoring first Scotland start in the corresponding fixture two years ago, believes the two teams are well matched.  

He said: “They’re always exciting games. 

“It tends to get really close as well. I remember in Saint-Etienne, that was a three-point game, and the warm-up game over here as well, that was won in the last minute with them really putting pressure on our line.” 

Darge reflected on the match in 2022, a week after making his Test debut off the bench against Wales.  

Scotland Rugby News: Darge crosses for his first Scotland try against France in 2022Darge crosses for his first Scotland try against France in 2022 (Image: SNS)

“I remember the anthems - that was a goosebump moment being my first Scotland start.  

“Then the try, in terms of moments that is probably right up there in my career. I don’t score many tries, it’s not a massive part of my game, but to score in front of a home crowd and my family was really special.” 

Darge acknowledged Scotland will need to cut out the penalties they gave away in Cardiff, but doesn’t feel the way he and co-captain Finn Russell interact with referee Nic Berry should have a huge bearing on the game.

READ MORE: How Scotland can improve discipline issue from Wales victory

He said: “I think the penalties conceded were a symptom of other things in our game. I don’t think the referee was against us or annoyed at us - I don’t think that happens really in professional rugby.  

“Discipline is such a tough one. To say ‘Let’s get better discipline’ - well, how do you do that? So we’ve had a look at that this week. I don’t think it’s a massive part, speaking to the ref.” 

Scotland Rugby News: Scotland co-captains Rory Darge and Finn RussellScotland co-captains Rory Darge and Finn Russell (Image: SNS)

Darge says he and Russell will split the responsibility of communicating with the Australian official. 

“I think it will happen naturally,” he said.  

“There are certain aspects that it will make sense for me to speak to the referee about, and also who’s in the vicinity - if he’s at a scrum he’s not going to run over to Finn and ask him about that. 

“I think it will happen more naturally than people might think.” 

While the visitors travel without inspirational captain Antoine Dupont, and his Toulouse half-back colleague Romain Ntamack, who has a long-term knee injury, Darge knows Scotland must be alert to Les Bleus' other threats.  

“They’ve got loads of talent outside of Antoine Dupont. He’s a quality, quality player and I  think he helps marshal the power game that they have.  

“But they’re all used to it, they’ve been in that environment for long enough and I’m not expecting anything less than what they’ve shown in the last couple of years. 

“I think we’ll see a reaction after last week and I think they’ll use their power game with lots of physicality and emotion.  

“We can’t worry too much about that, we just have to concentrate on our physicality, our emotion and getting that right. 

“I enjoy these games - you know what physical challenge is coming, so you get up for it mentally and emotionally. Maybe that does bring out the best in us.”