FRANCE know what Scotland are capable of, according to their coach Jacques Brunel. He also suggested ahead of this afternoon’s Six Nations encounter at Murrayfield that Scotland, just like his team against Ireland, had a bad open day to the 2018 Champ-ionship. But then we knew he was going to say that anyway.

Similarly, Scotland skipper John Barclay didn’t stray too far from the script he must have played through in his head as many times as Gregor Townsend and the SRU’s video editors have re-run that calamitous afternoon against Wales.

Like the trip to Cardiff, where we hadn’t won since 2002, statistically there is little to suggest Scotland will halt a run against France which has accrued just two home victories in two decades. But, the stinging criticism directed at the Scots over the last week, according to Barclay, has made his men all the more determined to record a win today.

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“The criticism doesn’t anger me personally. We’re not going out to prove anyone wrong, definitely not. I think we’re just disappointed with the performance and want to prove to ourselves more than anybody that last week’s performance was a one off.

“We were just massively frustrated with the quality of our performance last week so for us it’s just about us going out there and showing that doesn’t represent what we’re about as a team.

“We didn’t see it coming. We had expected a much better performance and there was no indicators in the build-up.

“We’ve got to learn, it’s a different competition. It’s a slightly different kind of rugby when you get into Six Nations. We’re just trying to get on with it. We know we haven’t become a terrible team overnight, just as we hadn’t become the best team in the world off the back of the autumn.”

All Six Nations Tests live up to that billing, but the physicality of the French adds another dimension to the problems Scotland will face today.

“When you’ve got very big men coming at you, you have to get bodies in front of those bodies. If they start hitting soft shoulders, then they can get a bit of a rumble on and become dangerous and get into that traditional way that they are very good at, off-loading and getting behind you which can be quite dangerous,” said Barclay, who sounded like a man who was trying to ignore a movie he had seen before.

“France will be very physical and their defence is very good,” he said. “The weather wasn’t the best over in Paris last week, so, it is hard to take as much from their result with Ireland than had there been dry ball.

“While they have some dangerous runners, they are under new guidance so you’re not too sure how much to take from the first game.”