France missed out on the second round of matches when their home game against Ireland ten days ago was postponed just ten minutes before kick-off. The Stade de France pitch had frozen before the 9pm kick-off.
That game will be replayed on Sunday, 4 March, when the other four teams are resting, which means France and Ireland face four games in four weeks. The Irish will host Scotland in Dublin six days after playing France.
But Ford, who will today be named Scotland captain for the match, does not expect Philippe Saint-André’s side to have lost any sharpness.
Ford said: “Training is intense for every international team and they’ll be peaking to perform on matchday. They’ve been away in camp for a month or so and they’ve been training hard. We’re aware of the challenges they’ll pose us but, for us, the challenge is to do what we do on the training pitch on match day.”
The Edinburgh hooker is enjoying captaining the side but admits it heightens frustration at losing. And France can be expected to pose the stiffest test for Scotland in the championship, particularly up front. They had plenty of problems at the World Cup yet almost beat hosts New Zealand in the final.
But Ford remains confident and said: “It [captaincy] is a massive honour but, for me, winning is what I’m out there to do. The French set-piece is good. The scrum is very formidable. They have a good lineout and they’re defensively good. And they have that ability to attack from anywhere.
“We’ve shown glimpses but we have to win. It’s about getting over that hurdle, pushing the level up again and turning ‘so close’ into actual wins.”