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'We maybe owe Wales a favour from 1999'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Paris will be the setting for the 2021 Guinness Six Nations finale on Friday night and Scotland boss Gregor Townsend would love to beat France away for the first time in 22 years and repay the massive favour they got that year from Wales.


The Scots defeated the French on the Saturday in the final round of the old Five Nations but they didn’t have much belief that the Welsh could deliver a Sunday upset against Grand Slam-chasing England at Wembley to send the championship title from London to Edinburgh.

Wales, though, memorably did the business, the Scott Gibbs’ try a special classic that has since lived long and vibrantly in the memory.

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Ex-Wales maverick back-rower Andy Powell guests on RugbyPass All Access
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Now Townsend wants to repay that debt knowing that if Scotland prevent France from winning with a four-try bonus point and with a margin of 21 points the Six Nations title will go to Alun Wyn Jones and co six days after Welsh Grand Slam hopes were devastatingly dashed by Brice Dulin’s added time try in Paris.  

“We have got two Welsh members of staff so they have had a few messages,” revealed Townsend when asked had there been any communication from Wales this week pleading for the Scots to give them a title-winning assist.

“We maybe owe Wales a favour from 1999. I remember watching that game [Wales vs England] with Stuart Grimes in France thinking, ‘Well, we had a good win yesterday but do we really want to watch England win the Five Nations?’ Wales turned them over that day, so I’m sure they will be cheering us on like we were that day 22 years ago.”


Townsend’s memories of the 36-22 Scotland win in Paris remain vivid for the coach who was a try-scorer that afternoon where the Scots outscored the French five tries to three. “We didn’t start well the first two, three minutes, especially me. I shanked a kick and Thomas Castaignede made about an 80-yard break. 

“Then we woke up and got into a flow state, what they call in sports psychology where everybody seemed to be connected with each other, wanted the ball and moved the ball very accurately, and we played some amazing rugby for about a 20, 30-minute period and then after that, it was a pretty dull 3-0 second half. 

“It was one of those amazing games where everything just comes right. The fact that it was the last game of the season I felt was really important in that happening. We had built up a lot of connections. 

“I remember training that week players were leading it and we felt really confident and cohesive, so having it as the last game of the season should help us now. I know it has been a different type of season for us but we can now throw everything out that we worked on this year and the confidence in how we played last weekend (when beating Italy) should help the players approach this game with confidence.”



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