Six Nations: BT Murrayfield 'turned into Stade de France' as Antoine Dupont explains how crowd helped them beat Scotland
France are a mighty force in world rugby. That’s seven wins in their last eight matches now after an emphatic 36-17 win over Scotland. Australia, New Zealand and Ireland are also among the recent casualties. They have a powerful, ruthless pack. They have a half-back pairing in Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack that oozes class and quality. Further down the backline, there are threats all over the place. Centres Jonathan Danty and Gael Fickou, wing kings Damian Penaud and Yoram Moefana, and the prowess of full-back Melvyn Jaminet, even if his kicking radar was slightly off in Edinburgh.
Their supporters know this is a team to get behind. French rugby has had its schisms in recent times and Scotland have taken advantage, winning five out of the past nine meetings between the duo. But those days seem to be behind the French. Coach Fabien Galthie is at the wheel of a juggernaut, the final destination being the World Cup on French soil next autumn. In between, there are two Six Nations, and the 2022 version looks like it is on its way to Paris. They are the only team with a 100 per cent record and head to Cardiff in fine fettle for a Friday night under the lights just under two weeks time.
Whether they have the same backing from the Principality Stadium stands remains to be seen. Certainly, the French players had a spring in their step here, from the moment the Marseillaise was belted out before kick-off.
"There is a lot of satisfaction to be drawn from this game,” said Dupont, who displayed once again why he is the current world player of the year. “We made a very good start, then we gave them some points. They came back but despite that, despite two or three errors in our camp, we did not panic. We stayed together, united collectively throughout the match, which paid off in the end.
“We didn't necessarily have very good memories here at Murrayfield. There were times when we almost thought we were at the Stade de France, the Marseillaise made a lot of noise. We felt supported and it felt good as soon as the bus arrived. The Scottish crowd is an incredible crowd, they kept supporting their team despite the score. It was a great feeling.”
Prop Cyril Baille echoed Dupont’s words. “When we have the fans with us, it's always feel good,” he said. “And here, they supported us a lot, particularly with la Marseillaise. It was really impressive because it was an away game and it almost felt like being at home. It's incredible. Thank you to everyone who made the trip. They were huge, they pushed us to the end and it's also thanks to them that we won.”
Galthie could not hide his delight at the triumph, particularly given the sore defeat at home to Scotland last year. “First we savour the present moment, the match that we have prepared with great care,” he said. “The players fought an extraordinary battle. So we savour first, then we recover. There was a lot of intensity and commitment. We are going to have a good time recovering, seeing this match again, then the evening and the next day together.”