Gregor Townsend hails Scotland spirit after ending long wait for win in France

SCOTLAND HEAD COACH Gregor Townsend praised the spirit of his hoodoo-busting side after they ended the Guinness Six Nations with a dramatic victory in France.

Duhan Van Der Merwe crossed for his second try five minutes after the 80-minute mark as Scotland won 27-23 in Paris to blow apart the hosts’ slim hopes of snatching the title from the grasp of Wales.

It was a first victory in France since 1999 for Scotland and followed rare wins in Llanelli and Twickenham over the past six months.

They had waited 18 years to win in Wales and had not beaten England on their own soil since 1983, but Scotland showed they can mix it with the best in the Six Nations.

“It’s incredible,” said Townsend, who saw skipper Stuart Hogg sent to the sin bin and Finn Russell sent off late on.

“To break one record is a massive achievement but to do three in our last three away games in the Six Nations shows what a team we have and what a group of players we have.

“We have been really competitive in the last two years in every game we have played in the Six Nations. We have won six games and lost four that have been very close.

“To keep that going in a bit of adversity prior to the match and during the match shows that this team has spirit, has togetherness.

“That win means a lot. It means a lot to them, it means a lot for Scottish rugby, and hopefully for the people in our nation, like the win at Twickenham did.”

Scotland ended the tournament in fourth place but they finished on a high, while France had to settle for second after never looking like securing the heavy win they needed to topple Wayne Pivac’s side.

France needed a 21-point win with four tries but only managed three in an encounter head coach Fabien Galthie likened to a “never-ending boxing match”.

His side had denied Wales the grand slam at the death in Paris six days earlier but the boot was on the other foot this time at the Stade de France.

“In every match apart from the game against Italy, the last action was what made the difference,” Galthie said. “It’s tough to lose that way.

“We had decided we would take the points as they came and would not focus absolutely on the score.

“Also, the rain, especially in the first half, didn’t allow us to hold the ball and take our chances. We played on the set-piece and the physical challenge was really what made the difference.

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“I don’t think the idea of having to win by 21 points made any difference in our preparation or the match itself.

“We had control at times but we have to applaud Scotland’s performance, they knew exactly what they had to do and what they had to invest.”