SO HOW do you go about preparing for a team that beat you 55-0 last time out? That has been the key question for Scotland coach Shade Munro this week as he looks forward to Saturday’s visit of France to Scotstoun.
Having underperformed against Wales last week, the national team know they will have to be far more consistent this time round to have any sort of chance against the French, who at third are nine places ahead of Scotland in the World Rugby rankings. But if that makes this second Six Nations fixture sound a daunting prospect, Munro’s squad can take some solace from the fact that, despite their flawed display in Colwyn Bay, they lost only by a point, going down 18-17. In other words, they are well aware that they can play a lot better than they did then, and if they are more consistent, above all in the set piece, they can at least cause France some problems.
“Well I think when you play against teams like France, the challenge is obviously a bigger one than it was against Wales,” said Munro after naming his team to play the French, who beat Ireland 24-0 last week in Toulouse. “So you can dwell on ‘Oh no, it’s going to be even more difficult than it was last week’.
“It’s about us developing as a team. It’s a bit of a cliche, but that’s exactly what it needs to be. Where were we last week, what can we improve on? Let’s put that into practice against France, who yes, are a World Cup semi-finalist, top-four team in the world.
“It’s going to be a different challenge. We’re going to be put under lots of different aspects of pressure, not just the physicality. They’ve got the physicality that Wales have got, and they’ve got the ability to play wide and play through you and kick in behind you that some of the other teams don’t have. There’s a lot of challenges.”
Munro has made just two changes of personnel to the line-up that began last week’s defeat, starting Sarah Law at scrum-half in place of Jenny Maxwell, who is on the bench, and opting for Lana Skeldon at hooker instead of Rachel Malcolm, who moves to blindside flanker. Malcolm’s switch sees Hannah Smith move from No 6 to openside, meaning Louise McMillan drops to the bench.
“We’re not in a position to make loads of changes – it’s about them developing as a team and as players,” the coach added.. “There’s nothing to be gained by dropping people and bringing other people in. We don’t have huge resources.
“We need to get front-foot ball, we need to get quick ball, and then we can get our ball-players into the game. It’s not so much about intricate, fancy moves – it’s getting our best ball-carriers to get the ball in their hands and run. And then it’s about playing the game.”
Scotland (v France at Scotstoun, Saturday, 7.05pm): C Rollie (Lille); E Musgrove (Edinburgh Uni), L Thomson (Lille), H Nelson (Murrayfield Wanderers), R Lloyd (Edinburgh Uni); L Martin (DMP Sharks), S Law (Edinburgh Uni/Murrayfield Wanderers); J Konkel (Lille), L Skeldon (Watsonians), M Kennedy (Stirling County), E Wassell (Murrayfield Wanderers), D McCormack (Harlequins), R Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning), H Smith (Hillhead/Jordanhill), S Bonar (Loughborough Lightning). Substitutes: J Rettie (Thurrock), S McMillan, L Smith (both Hillhead/Jordanhill), M Lowish (Loughborough Lightning), L McMillan (Hillhead/Jordanhill), S Cattigan (Stirling County/Stirling Uni), J Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning), L Harris (Edinburgh Uni).