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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January, 2005, 17:30 GMT
Strictly Six Nations: France v Scotland
The first fixture of this year's RBS Six Nations Championship sees Scotland travel to Paris to take on defending Grand Slam champions France.

The Scots have lost their last six matches against the French, including their last five in the Championship.

But they can point to memorable wins in Paris in 1995 - the year they broke a barren 26-year run - and 1999, the year they won the last Five Nations title.

Gregor Townsend, a key figure in both, recalls how they upset the odds.


I loved playing in Paris - it always seemed to be nice weather, a great atmosphere and it was generally fast, open rugby, which suited me.

In 1995 the great thing was how we won it. We tried to have a go at them early on and got through a few times.

But we were losing with a couple of minutes to go so we tried again.

Gavin Hastings races on to Gregor Townsend's pass to score the winning try against France in 1995
Hastings surged onto Townsend's flipped pass to score
The ball came out to the left and I could see their defence was drifting. I dummied to kick to try to get the French offside and then tried to get between their centres.

Gavin Hastings spotted the gap but the only way I could pass the ball was behind my back.

I made the decision I was going to do it and fortunately managed to get my hands free, but I didn't really see Gavin until the ball left my hand.

All I could hear was him shouting 'inside, inside!' Fortunately he was in the right place and just took off and kept going all the way to the line.

He still had to get the conversion after that amazing run and then we had to hold out for the last few minutes.

It was a great day and an excellent night. There were about 6,000 Scottish supporters who can say there were there the only time we won at the Parc des Princes.


We had played better in each game of the Championship until then, but I could never have imagined the way we played for those first 20 minutes.

The team had stayed pretty much the same and everyone knew what they were doing and what everyone else was doing.

The ball we were getting from the forwards was excellent and we decided to attack at every opportunity.

Gregor Townsend plays a pass to John Leslie against France in 1999
Townsend and company led France a merry dance in 1999
A lot of it was quite risky but everything came off - it was the best rugby I have played in any team by a long way.

To get everything you try to do, in such a big game, in a stadium (Stade de France) where we had never won, was even more remarkable.

It was a particularly proud day for me when I scored to equal the record of scoring in every match in the same season.

I got a couple of interception scores earlier in the campaign but it was a special feeling going over in that first half, knowing what I'd done.

The pity was we only won the second half 3-0 (it was 33-22 at half-time) because Alan Tait had a third try disallowed and we could have gone on to score 40 or 50 points.

After a big night out in Paris, Stuart Grimes and myself had a four-hour train journey down to Brive, where I was playing at the time, on the Sunday.

We were still a bit hungover and were not that keen to watch the Wales v England game at Wembley, but thankfully we stayed awake.

With Wales winning and us winning the title as a result, it was definitely one of the best weekends ever.

  • Gregor Townsend was talking to Bryn Palmer


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