France v Scotland: Grant Gilchrist calls for ‘monumental’ effort as Scots seek rare win in Paris
Grant Gilchrist believes it will take a “monumental” effort to overcome France in Paris on Friday but the Scotland forward takes encouragement from the side’s recent away form.
Gregor Townsend’s team have beaten Wales and England on the road in the last five months and go into the French game on the back of a record-breaking victory over Italy at BT Murrayfield.
The Six Nations finale in the Stade de France offers the Scots the chance to claim second place which would be their highest ever finish since the competition expanded to include Italy in 2000.
France, meanwhile, are going for the title but require a bonus point and margin of victory which exceeds 20 points if they are to overhaul Wales at the top.
It has all the ingredients to be a cracking match and Gilchrist knows just how significant a win would be for Scotland who have not triumphed in Paris since 1999.
“I think it would be huge,” he said. “It will take a monumental effort from the whole squad to prepare this week, but if we can get the result over there it would be massive and a big momentum boost and a great way to finish the tournament.
“We have performed well away from home in recent times. The boys won down in Wales at the end of last year’s Six Nations and then the win at Twickenham, it shows we can perform on the road.
“There are two sides to it, we understand the size of the challenge, but we see it as an opportunity, but there is no reason why we can’t put our best game out there in France and no reason why we can’t win. We believe that, but we need to prove It on Friday.”
The absence of supporters has tended to negate any advantage the home side might have had in this season’s competition but Gilchrist is keen for fans to return as soon as possible.
“It is a bit more even home and away, but we would relish the opportunity even if there were fans there and at the end of the day it shouldn’t make a difference if there is a crowd there or not,” said the Edinburgh lock.
“I know the boys are relishing playing in front of full stadiums again when we can because that is the pinnacle, but we understand we are in a privileged position to even be playing the game.”
Gilchrist was making his first Scotland start in over a year on Saturday and delivered an impressive performance, particularly in the lineout which has listed badly against Ireland the previous week.
“We reviewed the parts that we had to. The lineout stats will show you that prior to last week we were one of the best lineouts in the tournament for the last couple of seasons,” said Gilchrist. “We had a really bad day at the office [against Ireland]. There were things we could have done better at the time and it was important to review, but we parked it pretty quickly.
“We moved on and got our lineout options sorted this week really early and it was just about repping it well and to be fair all the boys involved this weekend knew their roles inside out which was excellent.”