For once, France’s coach the one feeling the heat
It is a rare and lucky Scotland coach who goes to Paris knowing his job is safe, no matter what...
Greig Laidlaw’s goalkicking has been a key factor for Scotland this season.
It is a rare and lucky Scotland coach who goes to Paris knowing his job is safe, no matter what, but when Scott Johnson sits down at tonight’s post-match banquet the only questions on his mind will be whether to have the red or the white and does he want to be a Test coach again.
For once, the boot is on the other foot. This time France, so often hammers of the Scots in Paris, will have to play out of their skins or it could be their boss’s head on the block.
Philippe Saint-Andre has enough friends in high places for him to insist he will still be around at the 2015 World Cup, but a first Six Nations wooden spoon will test his popularity with the fans and media to such an extent that it might even cause doubts among his employers at the French federation.
As for Johnson, who takes Scotland to Paris looking to record three wins in a championship for the first time since 2006, he is getting tired of saying he is still undecided about whether to stay at Murrayfield.
“This ride is not about me. It’s about Scotland. I’ve got a job to do and that is to prepare for a World Cup, whether I’m there or not,” he said this week after announcing a team with two changes, one enforced by the injury to Richie Gray, from the XV that took the field against Wales.
Alasdair Strokosch replaces Rob Harley, while the 22-year-old Grant Gilchrist makes his debut in the second row in place of Gray. Strokosch insists the players want the 50-year-old Johnson to continue. “Scott has brought a lot of energy to the job,” he said.
Few have been saying anything as positive about Saint-Andre, leaving the coach to speak for himself. “It is from defeat that you will see great teams emerge,” said Saint-Andre, who has made three changes.
Centre Mathieu Bastareaud takes over from Florian Fritz, while lock Sebastien Vahaamahina comes in for Christophe Samson and flanker Antoine Claassen gets the nod ahead of Yannick Nyanga.