Nullifying ‘naturally gifted’ Antoine Dupont will be key to Scotland beating France

They may not have won the Six Nations but France produced the championship’s two star turns in Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.

France's scrum-half Antoine Dupont was voted player of the Six Nations.
France's scrum-half Antoine Dupont was voted player of the Six Nations.

Scrum-half Dupont won player of the tournament while stand-off Ntamack was the competition’s top scorer.

The latter is injured and will miss the Autumn Nations Cup clash with Scotland on Sunday but his half-back partner will be in Edinburgh as the French seek revenge over the only team to beat them this year.

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The Scots’ 28-17 win over France in March allowed England to pip Les Bleus for the Six Nations title. It was the only blot on an otherwise impressive campaign. Dupont was at the heart of it and Scotland lock Sam Skinner knows the home defence must shackle the scrum-half if they are to repeat their springtime success.

“I’m confident we can nullify him in the game, that we’re aware of what his strengths are and his threat,” said Skinner. “He’s a naturally gifted player and we can’t relax for a minute, we’ve got to be switched on for the full 80.

“Every game he plays he’s spoken about by the other team. You’ve got to talk him up, he’s a very good player but you can’t focus too much on him because there are great players around him as well.

“It’s about sticking to your defensive system and there will be spells in the game where they’re going to be on top. Trust in when you’ll get back on top that you can make it count. Often they’ll start fast and they have big physical players, they’re fast and aggressive, but if you weather the storm and come through the top towards the end of the game hopefully, you can get a bit ahead.”

The absence of Ntamack is a bonus for Scotland and France have summoned the callow Toulon player Louis Carbonel into their squad as cover at 10, although Matthieu Jalibert of Bordeaux Bègles is more likely to start at Murrayfield.

Scotland have not lost at home to France since 2014, a run that consists of four successive victories. The absence of fans will lessen home advantage but the Scots will go into the game without fear given their excellent form.

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