Tournament favourites France travel to Murrayfield looking for their third successive win on Scottish soil this Sunday. KO 3pm
Scotland last beat France at Murrayfield in 2006 but since then the French have won every encounter and name an unchanged side that was due to face Ireland two weeks ago.
While initially the postponed game against Ireland seemed to frustrate new French coach Phillipe Saint-Andre, in retrospect it has greatly enhanced their chances of winning the Six Nations.
The four weekend games in-a-row allows Saint-Andre and his coaching staff more time with a group of players still finding their feet with a new coaching regime and also allows players to recover from injuries.
“Spending a month with the players has its advantages,” said Saint-André.
“We will be able to work on the details and as a coach I will be able to get to know the squad a little better, the personalities.
“It’s positive, but we will need to be capable of playing four matches in a row at a high level improving on every game and remaining fit both physically and mentally. The game in Scotland is key.
Scotland has only themselves to blame for failing to overcome an average English side and indiscipline against the Welsh cost them a fighting chance of getting something out of the game.
A plus for Andy Robinson’s men has been the emergence of David Denton at No.8, out-half Greig Laidlaw and teenager Stuart Hogg who made such a huge impact after coming on against Wales that Robinson has awarded the Glasgow Warriors full-back his full debut.
His inclusion is just one of four amendments to the starting line-up with recalls for John Barclay, scrum-half Mike Blair and centre Graeme Morrison.
However while the personnel might have been freshened up Robinson insists the desire for running rugby won’t be compromised.
“The way we’ve tried to play is with the ball in hand and it’s because I believe that’s the best way we can achieve victories,” said Robinson.
“Where we’ve struggled is we’re being punished for errors that we’ve made. We’ve lost the games because of those errors.
“Those are individual errors, they’re not structural issues.”
While many will view the Scotland game as another stepping stone for the French, Saint-Andre has been quick to dispel any thoughts of an easy win by suggesting the Scots will be a hard game.
“The Scots are difficult to play against. When they played England they had lots of chances but could not finish them off.
“We will need to be aggressive in the individual battles and try to get hold of the ball as quickly as possible to avoid having to counter long passages in defence.
Verdict: France by 10 points
15. Maxime Médard (Toulouse)14. Vincent Clerc (Toulouse)13. Aurélien Rougerie (Clermont)12. Wesley Fofana (Clermont)11. Julien Malzieu (Clermont)10. François Trinh-Duc (Montpellier)9. Morgan Parra
1. Jean-Baptiste Poux (Toulouse)2. Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Français)3. Nicolas Mas (Perpignan)4. Pascal Papé (Stade Français)5. Yoann Maestri (Toulouse)6. Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse)7. Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz)8. Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)
16. William Servat (Toulouse)17. Vincent Debaty (Clermont)18. Lionel Nallet (Racing-Metro)19. Julien Bonnaire (Clermont)20 J Dupuy (Clermont)21. Lionel Beauxis (Toulouse)22. Maxime Mermoz (Perpignan)
15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)14. Rory Lamont (Glasgow Warriors)13. Sean Lamont (Scarlets)12. Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors)11. Lee Jones (Edinburgh Rugby)10. Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby)9. Mike Blair (Edinburgh Rugby)
1. Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh Rugby)2. Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby)3. Geoff Cross (Edinburgh Rugby)4. Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors)5. Jim Hamilton (Gloucester)6. John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors)7. Ross Rennie (Edinburgh Rugby)8. David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby)
16. Scott Lawson (Gloucester)17. Ed Kalman (Glasgow Warriors)18. Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors)19. Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks)20. Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors)21. Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors)22. Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Rugby)