Victorious French take wooden spoon
Victorious French take wooden spoonSHARE
France landed the dreaded wooden spoon for the first time since 1999 despite beating Scotland 23-16 at the Stade de France in their final Six Nations match.
Second-half tries by Wesley Fofana and Maxime Medard saw them to their first win of the tournament, but a late try by Tim Visser reduced the margin and that left them rock bottom because of a worse points difference to Ireland.
Scotland opened the scoring when Greg Laidlaw slotted over a penalty in the eighth minute.
France fell further behind in the 17th minute when Louis Picamoles was penalised for impeding a jumper in the lineout and Laidlaw landed a penalty from long range for 6-0.
France upped the pressure after that and camped inside the Scots 22 with the visitors somehow holding them at bay with terrific tackling.
The hosts gained great position again after an outrageous piece of skill by wing Vincent Clerc who, unable to catch Frederic Michalak's kick to the right wing, volleyed it infield where it was caught by Fofana.
However, they were again unable to turn it into points.
The Scots, though, had their moments in the final five minutes of the half as Max Evans – who had replaced the injured Sean Maitland – gathered the ball in midfield and broke two tackles before chipping into the French 22.
Fortunately, for the French, fullback Yoann Huget beat him to the ball over the tryline but it didn't prevent the hosts from exiting at half-time to jeers.
The second-half was brought to life not by the rugby but by an altercation between a clearly unsettled Michalak and Scottish fullback Stuart Hogg.
It carried on while play was still going on and eventually the two had to be separated by team-mates and were admonished by referee Nigel Owens.
The French flyhalf pulled himself together sufficiently to convert a penalty a couple of minutes later and make it 6-3 and then levelled the game in the 49th minute.
The bust-up with Hogg seemed to have galvanised Michalak as he put Scotland under pressure almost immediately after that with a delightful chip into the 22 which the Scottish had to knock into touch.
The Scots were reeling and conceded another penalty in the 54th minute which Michalak had no trouble converting to give the hosts the lead.
The visitors got back on level terms shortly before the hour mark, Laidlaw kicking the penalty after the French were adjudged to be offside.
French replacement prop Vincent Debaty then charged down the left and instead of passing inside, with the try line begging, went to ground and the Scots ended up with a penalty.
However, his Clermont clubmate Fofana showed him how to finish as he broke free on the left and brushed past Hogg to touch down under the posts – Michalak converted to make it 16-9.
Emboldened, the French addded a second try shortly afterwards as a great break by Mathieu Bastareaud saw him fall short.
But from the resulting ball Medard went over with Maxime Machenaud converting as Michalak lay prone on the ground.
Michalak had to go off as a result with his left arm being held gingerly by the medical staff.
The Scots refused to give up and Visser scored a deserved try with the clock ticking down which was converted.
Man of the match: Centres Wesley Fofana and Mathieu Bastareaud provided go forward ball and some game-breaking moments and Yoann Huget was dangerous throughout but the real star was Louis Picamoles, the ever-present No.8 who popped up everywhere.
Moment of the match: Wesley Fofana’s try, which put France in the lead for the first time with 15 minutes remaining.
Villain of the match: No-one.
Tries: Fofana, Medard
Cons: Michalak, Machenaud
Pens: Michalak 3
France: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 6 Antonie Claassen, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Luc Ducalcon, 19 Christophe Samson, 20 Yannick Nyanga, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Francois Trinh-Duc, 23 Gael Fickou.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Kelly Brown (captain), 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Moray Low, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Max Evans.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)