Scotland name unchanged team for Calcutta Cup clash

France have added fresh blood to their outside backs for their game against Italy

 Finn Russell has retained his place for the visit of England this weekend. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Finn Russell has retained his place for the visit of England this weekend. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

 

Gregor Townsend has kept faith with the players that beat France as the Scotland head coach named an unchanged team for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash with England.

Townsend has seen his pack options bolstered with Edinburgh prop WP Nel and Glasgow lock Tim Swinson named among the replacements following injury.

Glasgow centre Nick Grigg has been rewarded for his man-of-the-match display against Cheetahs last Friday with a place on the bench for the Six Nations fixture.

Five of Scotland’s backline are British and Irish Lions — Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw.

Townsend said: “The players put a huge amount of effort into our win over France. They found a way to win and kept attacking the opposition up until the final whistle.

“England are the number two side in the world and have shown a very good level of consistency in the past couple of seasons.

“Taking on England is going to be a huge challenge and we are well aware that only our very best will be good enough in this fixture.”

Meanwhile France coach Jacques Brunel reshuffled his attacking line as Les Bleus look to end an eight-game winless streak when they face Italy on Friday.

Brunel kept faith in scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud and outhalf Lionel Beauxis after the 32-26 defeat by Scotland, but added fresh blood to the outside backs for the game in Marseille.

Winger Remy Grosso replaced the disappointing Virimi Vakatawa and Benjamin Fall came in for Teddy Thomas, France’s only try scorer in the championship who was left out of the squad after several players were sanctioned for going out late in Edinburgh 10 days ago.

Mathieu Bastareaud was named at centre in place of Remi Lamerat and Hugo Bonneval replaced Geoffrey Palis at fullback.

Geoffrey Doumayrou retained his spot at centre alongside Bastareaud.

“I’m expecting from them to bring us safety, but also creativity in other moments, and enthusiasm always,” Brunel told a news conference when referring to the backline.

“Like I said, there are spots up for grabs. Some have the opportunity to show what they are capable of.”

Brunel has high expectations for Bastareaud, who is in the squad after his ban for making homophobic comments in a Champions Cup game expired.

“It seems like he has reached a new dimension since he was named captain at Toulon,” said Brunel, who will be facing the team he coached from 2011-16.

“He has a special profile and he’s got experience.”

The pack was unchanged apart from Paul Gabrillagues coming in for the injured Arthur Iturria in the second row.

France and Italy lost their first two matches in the tournament, the Azzurri conceding 102 points in defeats by England and Ireland.

SCOTLAND: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Peter Horne, Sean Maitland; Finn Russell, Greg Laidlaw; Gordon Reid, Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Johnny Gray; John Barclay, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson.

Replacements: Scott Lawson, Jamie Bhatti, WP Nel, Tim Swinson, Dave Denton, Ali Price, Nick Grigg, Blair Kinghorn.

FRANCE: Hugo Bonneval; Benjamin Fall, Mathieu Bastareaud, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Remy Grosso; Lionel Beauxis, Maxime Machenaud; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Rabah Slimani; Paul Gabrillagues, Sebastien Vahaamahina; Wenceslas Lauret, Yacouba Camara, Marco Tauleigne.

Replacements: Adrien Pelissie, Dany Priso, Cedate Gomes Sa, Romain Taofifenua, Kelian Galletier, Baptiste Couilloud, Francois Trinh-Duc, Gael Fickou.

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