Townsend throws down gauntlet to Scots
January 30, 2011
Townsend celebrates his try against France in Paris back in 1995 ©
Scotland attack coach Gregor Townsend has urged his side to draw on the spirit of their 1995 and 1999 counterparts when they tackle France in their Six Nations opener next Saturday.
The Scots have not won in the French capital since Italy joined the championship in 2000 and Townsend was an influential member of the teams which recorded Scotland's two successes in 42 years in Paris, the last coming 12 years ago as Scotland won the last Five Nations Championship.
"I don't think I'd ever get fed up talking about them," he told PA Sport. "With the style of rugby we played we went out there and attacked and really deserved our win. That's a lesson for any Scotland team going to Paris and that's one we'll be making next week.
"The rugby Scotland played in those games is the rugby we need to play. To be fair to this squad, a lot of them played two years' ago [a 22-13 defeat] when we played some good attacking rugby, were unlucky not to score a couple more tries - two were disallowed, it was one try all - and we did lose. The players realise that's how we have to go out there, move the French around, contain them in the set-piece, but play at real pace."
Scotland have won five of their last six Tests, losing only to New Zealand last November in their first fixture for five months. Robinson's men were last in action against Samoa in Aberdeen on November 27, but Townsend is confident they will not be caught cold again like they were in the 49-3 loss to the rampant All Blacks.
"We've really analysed what we did as a coaching staff leading into the New Zealand game and that's changed a lot of our preparations," added Townsend. "It's difficult at times when you have that break, knowing what to do at training to make it as competitive as possible and match realistic.
"We're certain we've got the preparations right and a two-month break isn't the same as a five-month break from the summer. There is more continuity now than between the Argentina and All Blacks games."
Scotland A defeated the Irish Wolfhounds at Netherdale on Friday night in a match featuring Johnnie Beattie. The Glasgow Warriors No.8 was one of the stars of the 2010 Six Nations and Scotland's 2-0 series success in Argentina last June, but missed the autumn internationals following shoulder surgery.
Beattie has played three times for Glasgow since completing his rehabilitation and Robinson used the A game to test the Warriors back rower. Whether Beattie impressed enough remains to be seen, with Robinson set to name his team for Paris on Tuesday.
If Beattie is selected, it will likely be in the Killer Bs formation with club-mate John Barclay and Kelly Brown, who moved from Glasgow to Saracens last summer, with Nathan Hines alongside captain Alastair Kellock in the second row. If Beattie is not chosen in the starting XV, Hines may be switched to the blindside flank, with Brown at number eight and Kellock joined by Richie Gray in the second row.
Another intriguing selection question for Robinson is how he fills the void created by the absence of injured centre Graeme Morrison, with Joe Ansbro an option at number 12.
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