A Scotland Under-20s side lost heavily against a France Under-20 development XV in a World Championship preparation game in Nice last night. Both sides have been training this week at the Stade des Arboras, home of Scottish Rugby’s French partner Stade Nicois, and they put their progress to the test in a match which France won 66-5.
While it was low key from a Scottish perspective – Scottish Rugby made no mention of the match on its website or social media channels – the game was preceded by national anthems, spectators in 1,500 strong crowd were charged admission and the highlights will be shown on French television next week.
The squads were largely made up of those who have played at Under-19 level this season and are looking to step up to the Under 20s. And there was no doubting the seriousness of the home side’s approach, ahead of the World Championships taking place in Argentina in June, when France will defend the title they won on home turf last year.
Team manager Philippe Boher looked forward to the match against the Scots, and to his squad’s two encounters with Ireland over the next ten days, saying: “For our team, it’s a bit like the peak of our season as we have the chance to welcome two of the bigger European sides in Scotland and Ireland. These matches will show all the work we have done since the start of the season, as well as the individual progress of some players. It’s also a chance for the best of them to book a ticket to participate at World Under-20 Championships”.
The hosts raced into a 19-0 lead inside the opening 11 minutes and were 33-5 ahead at half time, bagging five tries. The Scots drove over for a collective effort that proved to be their only score of the night. France continued to dominate in the second half, attacking at pace and defending well when Scotland had possession. And they were rewarded with five more tries, four of them converted.
“We are really pleased with the way these youngsters went about the match”, said Boher afterwards. “We were a bit concerned about this Scottish team. Last year they beat us at the Under 18 Six Nations Festival. We were well prepared and the result was beyond our expectations.”
France: C Tiberghien; C Randle, T Vili, S Renda, E Dridi, J Moura, B Germain; C Fournier, T Hamonou, Y Peysson (C), L Rousset, M Guillard, S Lotrian, P Jutge, A Bordelai. Subs: M Sarragallet, A Decaux, A Ikahehegi, A Lalanne, T William, G Bazin, K Viallard, T Dolhagaray, R Fusier, N Hulleu, A Warion.
Scotland: O Smith, R Aikman, A Mitchell, A Jardine, L MacPherson; R Thompson, M Scott; A Nimmo, A Fraser, W Owen, H Butler, C Henderson, J Hill, T Leatherbarrow, ? Marshall. Subs: TBC.
Referee: M Bottino (Italy)
The pre-match national anthems were posted on Facebook last night –