PARIS (AFP) – Veteran full-back Maxime Medard scored twice as France hammered Scotland 32-3 in their first Rugby World Cup warm-up Test in Nice last Saturday.
Medard, 32, winning his 57th cap, dotted down either side of the break for his first tries in more than three years.
The fixture was the first outing of the side since the appointment of former French captain Fabien Galthie as an advisor to head coach Jacques Brunel, before he takes over from the 65-year-old after the World Cup in Japan.
“We were opportunistic, we managed to score some good tries. We could have scored more but it’s a satisfactory match which will do some good to our spirits,” Brunel said.
Prop Jefferson Poirot led les Bleus for the first time in the absence of injured Guillem Guirado as Fijian-born winger Alivereti Raka and flanker Francois Cros made their debuts in the starting lineup as the hosts scored five tries in all.
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend chose to rest first-choice half-backs Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw and put his faith in Glasgow pair Adam Hastings and Ali Price for the match in Nice.
“We thought we had prepared the squad well, but we were wrong. We wasted the whole first half,” Townsend said.
“The team will be changed quite a bit for next Saturday,” he added looking ahead to the return fixture between the sides in Edinburgh.
Galthie’s focus on improving France’s fitness was seen almost immediately.
Raka, 24, celebrated his first cap with a maiden Test try after just 94 seconds as he crashed over under the posts.
Camille Lopez converted before adding his only penalty of proceedings after a quarter of an hour of play.
Les Bleus’ second try came from further pressure inside the Scottish 22m.
Lopez found himself in space out wide before feeding Damian Penaud who passed to Medard for his first try in international rugby since February 2016.
The fly-half missed the extras before his opponent in the visitors’ number 10 shirt Hastings claimed his side’s first and only points with a penalty after 26 minutes.
Hastings turned villain seven minutes later as he was shown a yellow card and Les Bleus chose to kick to the corner.
France scored their third try as Gregory Alldritt, who has a Scottish father, dived over with five minutes of the half remaining and the host led 20-3.
After a slow opening quarter of an hour to the final 40 minutes France crossed for their fourth try.
Medard added his second of the match after good work from Cros and scrum-half Antoine Dupont.
Dupont became the recipient five minutes later for his second try in 15 Tests after a superb slaloming run from Damian Penaud and France led 32-3 with half an hour to play.
France held out for victory, only their sixth in 17 games under Brunel and stopped an opposition from crossing the whitewash for the first time since Wales in February 2017.
The two teams face each other again next weekend before France host Italy on August 30.
Les Bleus face Argentina, the United States, Tonga and England at the World Cup in Japan.
Scotland have back-to-back Tests against Georgia after the match at Murrayfield and will meet Ireland, Samoa, Russia as well as the hosts at the tournament.