Victories against France are always to be welcomed, but yesterday’s 25-21 triumph by Scotland came at a price. While Gregor Townsend was pleased by the spirit shown by his team in a second half which saw them fight back from a 21-3 deficit, he had dual concerns at the end: the ankle injury which forced Ben White off in the first half, and the sending-off ten minutes into the second half of Zander Fagerson.

The head coach was more optimistic after the match about White’s chances of regaining fitness in time for the World Cup than was initially the case. But the injury will almost certainly mean that the scrum-half - firmly established now as the team’s first-choice No 9 - will have to sit out the return match in St Etienne on Saturday.

As for Fagerson, who became the first player to have an initial yellow card upgraded to red as a result of the new Bunker system, he risks missing out on that game, the Georgia match on Saturday 26th, and possibly one or two matches in the World Cup itself. His dismissal came after his attempted clear-out at a ruck saw him make contact with the head of French hooker Pierre Bourgarit.

Scotland’s second-half revival had already begun by that time after a first 40 in which they were well off the pace and which finished with them 21-3 down. "We believed that we could still win the game (at half-time),” Townsend said. “We knew we needed more ball and probably needed more speed in our attack - and we got that second half.

"I did fear that one man less would make it tough for us, but it didn't. We still looked very dangerous. Credit to our maul defence - I thought it was outstanding. We looked much calmer in defence in the second half.”

The result of this second of four World Cup warm-ups may have been academic, but Townsend was particularly pleased by the manner in which it was achieved. “Even though these are not Six Nations or World Cup games, it is a Test match in front of almost 60,000 people, so we know our job is to win.

“And when you’re defending your line at the end, thoughts go through your head about whether we’re going to hold out for the win, and it was such an encouraging second-half performance and victory that it would have been a big blow if we hadn’t got that win.
“We showed much more of who we are in that second half, both in attack and defence. To do it with one less player for the majority of the second half is going to be really positive for the players’ level of belief.”

White appeared despondent when he hobbled off after half an hour, but the Scotland camp are now hopeful that there will be no lasting damage. "Ben is much more positive now,” Townsend continued. “He got high tackled and got his foot trapped under him. It was an area where he had an issue at the beginning of our World Cup camp but he’s been training fully now for the last six weeks and in initial testing it seems OK. 

“He’s off to hospital just to make sure there’s nothing in the scan, so fingers crossed that he’s OK, it might be that he struggles to train this week but hopefully he’ll be available for the World Cup.”

The same has to be said of Fagerson, who as the team’s first-choice tighthead prop is arguably the most important individual in the pack if not in the whole team. The Glasgow Warriors player faces a disciplinary hearing this week and looks sure to miss next Saturday’s return match in St Etienne and the home game against Georgia on Saturday 26th. And he could also be sidelined for the vital opening game of the World Cup against defending champions South Africa.

Townsend suggested there was no bad intent in Fagerson’s action and said he hoped the panel that will review the prop’s case bear that in mind. “We'll wait and see what happens with Zander. He feels like he let down the team. 

“He said there was nothing reckless in his movements.  The player played on, so I don’t think there was any injury there either. 

“There was no malice or foul play, it’s more from the rugby incident of mistiming on a ruck clear, so we just have to hope that the judiciary see it the same as what we see.”

Meanwhile, France captain Brice Dulin admitted his team had run out of steam to an extent on their first outing of the season. "We had opportunities in the second half, so it’s a shame we did not win,” he said. “We suffered, both in attack and in defence, and we tired. 

“There are things we can improve upon. We are frustrated.”