We look ahead to the opening match of Round 2 in the 2024 Guinness Men’s Six Nations with our Scotland vs France prediction and preview.

Scotland have started to develop a winning habit and mentality. That was nearly derailed by a remarkable Wales fightback last weekend, but in Round 2 they’ll hope to continue some strong recent form against Les Bleus at Murrayfield to keep their 2024 title hopes afloat.

Gregor Townsend’s men have won three of their last four home games against France in the Six Nations, this after just one such victory in eight attempts. In fact, they’ve won six of their last seven tests on home soil against all opposition, including each of their last four, their best run since 2017-18.

France conversely come into this match on the back of their heaviest home defeat in the Championship since 1914. They’ll be hoping to avoid three consecutive test defeats for the first time since 2018-19 but will need to bounce back quickly from that humbling and disarming loss in Marseille.


Scotland were at their clinical best (in the first half at least) against Wales last week, averaging four points per foray into the opposition 22. They also slotted all five of their shots at goal, the only team to manage a 100% kicking success rate in Round 1, something that ultimately proved the difference at the final whistle.

For all their woes, France did carry strongly last week against Ireland. They committed 2+ opposition tacklers from a greater share of their carries than any other team in the opening round (57%), while only Italy (22%) had a higher tackle evasion rate than Les Bleus (21%). This carry dominance will have subsequently been a key factor in their impressive ruck speed, a competition quickest 3.6s per ruck on average, a full second quicker than Scotland (4.6s).


Discipline nearly cost Scotland against Wales last week. Their tally of 16 penalties conceded was their most in a Six Nations match since 2014 (17 vs England) and it included 14 in a row at one stage, as the wheels almost completely fell off.

Despite only coming on as a substitute, Sam Skinner gave away four of those penalties, the most by a Scotland player in the Championship since 2017 (Grant Gilchrist vs Italy in 2017, who returns to the squad for this match). Whilst only one substitute has ever conceded more in a Six Nations match (Dorian Aldegheri 5 vs Ireland in 2019).

All of that made their win even more remarkable, only once before had a side been so heavily on the wrong side of the penalty count (16-4) and still won a Six Nations match (France vs Italy in 2003).

For France it appeared that everything that could go wrong did go wrong against Ireland. Playing two thirds of the game with 14-men was never going to help, even if Peter O’Mahony did generously decide to even things up for 10 minutes in the second half.

This numerical disadvantage, especially against one the most dominating teams in world rugby, really limited any consistent threat from the French. They managed just five entries into the opposition 22, the fewest of any side in Round 1, also making fewer carries overall of any team and conceding the most turnovers (12).

There was plenty of pressure on Maxime Lucu, who stepped in for Olympics-bound Antoine Dupont, and he had a rough time of it. Plenty of scrappy ball and far from a solid platform to work from, but still his stats don’t make for great reading. Five carries, three metres gained, no breaks, no defenders beaten, four missed tackles and two turnovers conceded. In comparison Dupont’s stats vs Ireland last season: 14 carries, 73 metres gained, two breaks, six defenders beaten, 11/12 tackles and just the one turnover.

Lucu gets another opportunity this weekend, and hopefully he can be allowed to display his clear talent that he shows at club level for Bordeaux week in week out.

Standout Players

Scotland have a really solid and dependable squad at the moment, but they also have two standout players in there who can really prove the difference and turn games on their head in a flash.

Finn Russell and Duhan van der Merwe. Nailed on starters and probably nailed on British & Irish Lions too when that comes around next year.

Russell is undoubtedly one of the most creative and talented players in the northern hemisphere. In Round 1 he was the only player to assist more than one try and in doing so went past Dan Biggar (18) as the player with the second most try assists in the history of the Six Nations (19, Conor Murray, 28).

Russell Assists

Van der Merwe is arguably even more important, being such a destructive ball carrier and ruthless finisher with the try line in sight. It’s all very well having Messi in the midfield but having Luis Suarez up top doesn’t hurt either.

Damian Penaud will win his 50th cap in this match and is to France what van der Merwe is to Scotland, a clinical finisher. He has 15 tries in his 21 Championship matches so far, second on that list (since Penaud’s debut in 2019) is Duhan with 11 (alongside Josh Adams).

In this game however, they need some of their senior players to step up and help reassert some of the confidence that was blown away by Ireland last week.

Captain, Gregory Alldritt has that potential and is a huge factor in France’s momentum on the pitch. As usual against Ireland he made a team high 15 carries and 16 tackles, the only player from any nation to make 15+ in both categories over the opening weekend. He also made 31 metres in-contact, a tally only his opposite number Caelan Doris (32) narrowly bettered.

The skipper will need support from his soldiers in this one though if they are to reverse their fortunes from Round 1. Being over reliant on one player rarely works at this highest level of rugby, unless that player is called Dupont obviously.

Scotland vs France Prediction

Ahead of kick-off, the Opta supercomputer predicts this encounter to go the same way as last year’s reverse fixture. Last year France prevailed by 11 points in Paris, with our pre-match prediction this year giving them a 10-point advantage (28-18) despite having to travel to Scotland this time around.

Scotland have been given a 34.1% chance of winning, compared to France’s 65.2% based on the supercomputer pre-match simulations.

Scotland vs France Prediction Six Nations

Scotland vs France Lineups

Co-captain Rory Darge returns in place of Luke Crosbie whilst Grant Gilchrist comes in for Richie Gray. Those two are returning from an injury and suspension respectively. Crosbie and Gray are both injured and out for the rest of the Championship. Andy Christie – one of our Six Nations players to watch in 2024 – is a new name on the bench with Jamie Ritchie dropped and Jack Dempsey promoted to the starting XV.

Scotland: 15 Kyle Rowe, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell (co-captain), 9 Ben White; 1 Pierre Schoeman, 2 George Turner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 5 Scott Cummings, 6 Matt Fagerson, 7 Rory Darge (co-captain), 8 Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Andy Christie, 21 George Horne, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Cameron Redpath

Fabien Galthie has made two changes to his starting XV from Round 1. Louis Bielle-Biarrey swaps with Yoram Moefana who will be on the bench for this one whilst Cameron Woki replaces the suspended Paul Willemse.

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Louis Bielle Biarrey, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Maxime Lucu; 1 Cyril Baille, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 3 Uini Atonio, 4 Cameron Woki, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 6 Francois Cros, 7 Charles Ollivon, 8 Gregory Alldritt (c).

Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Posolo Tuilagi, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Nolann Le Garrec, 23 Yoram Moefana.

Other Six Nations Round 2 Fixtures:

England vs Wales, Twickenham – Saturday 10 February, 16:45 GMT

Ireland vs Italy, Aviva Stadium – Sunday 11 February, 15:00 GMT

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