Improving Scotland U20s eye historic win against France

Scotland Under-20s hope to make history tomorrow night with a first-ever win over France at that age-grade 
level when the two sides meet in Galashiels.

Rufus McLean makes a break for Scotland Under-20s during the win over Italy at Stadio Mirabello last month. Picture: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO/Shutterstock

Head coach Sean Lineen has made one change to the team that recorded their first victory in this season’s Six Nations against Italy at Stadio Mirabello, as scrum-half Roan Frostwick swaps 
places with Kyle McGhie who 
moves to the bench for the Netherdale clash.

“Away teams don’t particularly like going to Gala. It will be a real chance for us. Scotland Under-20s have never beaten France – ever – so that’s a real challenge that we’ve laid out for them,” said assistant coach Shade Munro, who has been manning the ship while boss Lineen has been back in New Zealand following the sad passing of his father Terry.

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“We’ve improved every game but the key thing is that we need to improve again for this game.

“Quite often when you finally get a win, you pat yourself on the back and then have a drop-off. Certainly with Scottish teams that can happen. So, the challenge for us is to make sure we step it up again.”

The youngsters beat Italy 30-29 in Legnano a week past Friday, a first taste of victory against the Italians at that level since 2017.

“We’ve improved in every game we’ve played,” added Munro. “Our set-piece has got better, our attack has got better, and our defence is getting better but that is an area that needs to improve more than it is doing currently.

“It’s one thing scoring 30 points, but if you are conceding 29 that is actually the issue there. Thirty points away from home is good, but 29 points against is not – you can’t expect to score 30 points every time you play away from home. So, we’ve worked a fair bit on our defence in the last couple of days.”

France go into the game on the back of narrow losses against Wales and England, with their only victory being against Italy in the second round of the competition.

However, French rugby is on the upsurge currently and former Scotland lock, Glasgow Hawks and Scotland Women’s coach Munro is primed for the challenge.

“They are very similar to what you would expect them to be like: big men who are real natural rugby specimens,” said Munro. “They are big blokes – the 8, the 12 and the 15 – really talented rugby players. But it is not as structured as against other teams that we play, whereas France are always waiting for a mismatch and then they’ll play. They’ve got talented players, which is something that has never really changed when playing against France.

“Set-piece wise we have an idea of what they are going to do first up, but what we really have to do is identify their dangerous players and make sure we don’t do stupid things like kicking the ball straight down the full-back’s throat, for example.

“It is very much a learning curve for these guys. The environment they are in is a step up from the environment they are normally in, so they are learning all the time.”