15. Brice Dulin: 5
Along with his back-three partner Yoann Huget, Dulin was actually the catalyst for a lot of what was good about France’s game on Saturday. There wasn’t much of that, though, and his performance will be most remembered for that the comedic dance with Huget that led to Scotland’s first try… and the almost as gruesomely hilarious moment when he ran into one of his own side when it would have been easier not to.
14. Yoann Huget: 6
Read Duncan Weir’s admittedly telegraphed pass perfectly, then raced the length of the pitch, soul-glow hair flowing out behind in his light-speed slipstream. Was always looking for the ball and always had an eye for the main chance. There’s no wonder he was French TV viewers’ man of the match – they were so delighted with the win that they even forgave him for the error that gifted Scotland their first try.
13. Mathieu Bastareaud: 5
Threatened to break out of his Six Nations’ morass of anonymity with a couple of early breaks in the first half, but then performed his miraculous disappearing trick for much of the game. A late barnstorming run in the second period reminded the crowd that he was still on the pitch, but – really – we should have seen rather more of France’s blunt weapon than we did.
12. Maxime Mermoz: 5
Was it really asking too much to expect Mermoz, starting as a replacement for the injured Wesley Fofana, to replicate the almost psychic connection he has with midfield team-mate Bastareaud while in Toulon colours? Apparently it was.
11. Maxime Medard: 5
The most experienced of France’s three Maximes looked eager all game, running all over the place and looking for work… while at the same time almost always managing to be as far away from the ball as possible.
10. Jules Plisson: 4.5
The early promise of latent potential that the young fly-half displayed against England has given way to rabbit-in-the-headlights indecision and wet blanket ineffectiveness. No wonder he barely made it past the restart.
9. Maxime Machenaud: 5.5
Did better than Jean-Marc Doussain did last time out, but that’s not hard. His partnership with Plisson, however, was stilted, and his error under pressure led – eventually, and via a second much more embarrassing error involving Huget and Dulin – to Scotland’s opening try, but his boot kept France in the game, until he was replaced by Doussain six minutes from time.
1. Thomas Domingo: 5
Will have been rather embarrassed that Geoff Cross – who’s not the scariest of tightheads in world rugby – was getting the better of him by the time he came off with 11 minutes to go. If he’s not embarrassed, he should be…
2. Brice Mach: 3
Six lost line-out throws in the first half; another one in the seven minutes he was on the pitch in the second. Nightmare is a rather generous understatement when describing the Castres hooker’s first start for Les Bleus.
3. Nicolas Mas: 4.5
France’s gnarled old warrior is starting to look his age. He’s not the immovable object of old and he tires relatively quickly. With the lineout going badly wrong from the outset, France’s scrum needed to be strong. It started well enough, but faded and was conceding penalties left, right and centre by the closing stages.
4. Pascal Papé: 6.5
Put in a captain’s shift – and it’s just what France needed him to do. Otherwise their Six Nations dream would officially be over now. As it is, they’re still in with a shout going into the last game against Ireland in Paris.
5. Yoann Maestri: 4.5
Ummmm… Probably the only way you could tell Maestri was on the pitch was when you saw the number five shirt in the middle of another botched lineout or packing down at the scrum. Otherwise, a completely forgettable afternoon’s work.
6. Sebastien Vahaamahina: 6.5
Did a pretty decent job playing out of position as part of a cobbled-together back row that performed much better than the sum of its parts.
7. Alexandre Lapandry: 7
Industry personified all game. He made tackle after tackle after tackle as part of a completely new French back row that were three of the few very faint positives to come out of this game.
8. Damien Chouly: 7.5
You have to feel a little sorry for Chouly. After being dropped for his petulant reaction to being sin-binned against Wales, Louis Picamoles showed PSA just what he’d be missing when back in Toulouse colours last week. Anything the number 8 did against Wales on Saturday was bound to be weighed and measured against what Picamoles did against Perpignan. It’s to his credit that he wasn’t found wanting.
By James Harrington (@blackmountained)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images