Takeover for the resurgence of Wales by Wayne Pivac, discouragement for the flamboyant and flaky France of Fabien Galthie.
While the two coaches have rebuilt their teams very well, it was Pivac who clinched the Six Nations trophy as France lost at home to Scotland 27-23 on Saturday (AEDT) to be well below this which she needed to usurp the Welsh.
“We’re in heaven,” said Pivac, who led Wales to the title in their second season, just months after their debut season produced a much-criticized fifth-place finish.
France had the game, not the title itself, in hand at 23-20 in the 81st minute, but full-back Brice Dulin oddly decided not to kick the ball into contact with the assured victory if he did. .
The Scots exerted enormous pressure over 22 phases and nearly three minutes, and left winger Duhan van der Merwe swept the left corner in the 85th minute for his second try of the night and ensured the first triumph of the Scotland in Paris since 1999.
Eleven years after winning the tournament for the last time, France needed a bonus points victory of four tries and a margin of victory of 21 points in the tournament final in an empty Stade de France. The odds weren’t good.
The French managed three tries, but an average effort never seemed to crush the Scots, and they finished second in the championship, like last year.
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“Even though we couldn’t get the points spread and the number of tries we needed, we had several chances to win the game,” said Galthie. “We can regret it. It is the truth.”
France prevented Wales from winning the Grand Slam last weekend with their own winning try – ironically for Dulin – on the same pitch, but that couldn’t stop Scotland. The Scots booked the tournament by beating England at Twickenham and France in Paris in the same league for the first time since 1926, and could only finish fourth.
“Even though we finished fourth, it looks like one of our best seasons in our history,” said coach Gregor Townsend.
What made it even more remarkable was that Scotland was not at full strength. This match was postponed to February 28 due to a coronavirus outbreak in the French camp and, because it fell outside the international window, Scotland could only call five of the eight English players they ‘she wished.
“So proud of the team,” Townsend said. “They came here with a bit of adversity without a full squad, with an injury to one of our starters on Wednesday (No.8 Matt Fagerson), a yellow card, a red card … they showed courage , effort, solidarity. and the competence to win. “
But the rainy night was more like Glasgow conditions and Scotland prospered. They played excellent wet weather rugby for the first 25 minutes – aggressive with great line kicks – and France were rough.
A couple of big pick-and-gos from George Turner set up the van der Merwe center wing to squirm after a 14th-minute ruck, converted by Russell. Flanker Jamie Ritchie attacked a penalty for Russell and Scotland led 10-3 after a first quarter in which France made five handling errors.
France turned the tide with a scrum penalty after a face-off from Scotland. The flying half-back Romain Ntamack managed a penalty of 45 meters, and in a scrum, the Habs scored a manual try. Scrum-half Antoine Dupont completed a smooth pass to the right wing where Damian Penaud showed gentle hands to feed the ball inside scorer Dulin.
Ntamack converted from the wide right and France’s chances improved further when Scotland captain Stuart Hogg was sentenced at half-time after repeated infractions by his side under warning.
As Hogg’s sin-bin came to a close, France exploited the man’s advantage when the brilliant unloading of the back door of center Virimi Vakatawa freed Penaud, who took the advantage and landed in the corner. right for 18-10.
Hogg’s return calmed Scotland, however, and they turned the heat back on France. A penalty from Russell reduced the lead to five points in the 53rd.
When Galthie sent Teddy Thomas down the left wing and Gael Fickou moved into midfield with Vakatawa for the final 20 minutes, France was meant to be galvanized, but instead a compound Scotland advanced with a converted try. .
French flanker Swan Rebbadj snatched the ball from Scottish hands in a driving maul but lost control and substitute hooker David Cherry dived happily. Russell converted for a 23-20 lead with a quarter to go.
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Rebbadj made up for it by sliding a few minutes later. Ntamack missed the extras and France led only 23-20 with 15 to go.
Russell was given a red card for a forearm in Dulin’s neck, but France’s advantage was taken moments later by Serin’s yellow card for spoiling a Scottish maul. The weight of the positive expectation returned to France, which returned to the botched mistakes of recent years.
Given the hope, Scotland unleashed a grandstand finish, capped by Adam Hastings’ high and failed pass to van der Merwe for the winning try. After all the pre-game talks about France, Scotland stole the show.
“I was annoyed by (the hype about France), I’m a proud Scotsman,” Hogg said. “For the rest of the boys, it added energy to the fire, and we enjoyed it.”
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