French rookie wants an above par performance

French wing Benjamin Fall would kill for a below par score in his second favourite sport golf but on Sunday he will be looking for an above par performance when he makes his Six Nations debut for France against Scotland.


The 20-year-old Bayonne flyer will be winning his second cap when he runs out at Murrayfield having been preferred to veteran Toulouse star Vincent Clerc, who has to be content with a place on the replacements bench.


However, Fall is under no illusions that this match will be vastly different in terms of levels of intensity and pressure than the 43-5 humbling of Samoa last November in which he marked his debut with a try.


“The November tests were important, but this one is even more important,” said Fall, who has made the cut despite his club Bayonne having had a dreadful season which sees them in danger of relegation.


“This is a hugely prestigious tournament, with world class teams competing.


“This is a real test. It is the first match, which is going to be played with no quarter given.


“Nobody on either side wants to lose, because there will be a huge fallout from the defeat.


“We have no margin of error. I am going to try and prepare for it like I usually do for every match, even if it is a very very important match.


“I am going to remain focussed, think about what I am going to do… it is not my style to get stressed, I don’t put myself under any particular pressure.”


He admits modestly that he is surprised to be starting.


“It is a surprise for me as I really wasn’t expecting to be in the starting line-up,” he said.


“There is a huge amount of competition for the position and it is a little bizarre that neither Vincent (Clerc) nor Cedric (Heymans, who didn’t make the squad at all) are not there in my place.”


Fall has delighted spectators with his unpredictable play but so laid-back is he that he revealed it can drive his coaches to distraction like it did last season when former France centre Richard Dourthe was coach of Bayonne.


“I only take calculated risks,” he grinned.


“On Sunday I will try and stay focussed from start to finish.


Last year Richard Dourthe told me off for falling asleep during the first-halves of matches and only coming alive in the second-half.


“Now I am alert the whole time as above all I do not like losing,” added Fall, who first signalled that he was a precocious talent when he scored three tries in the Under-20 world championships in 2008.


Fall, who signed for Bayonne in 2008 from Bordeaux-Begles, admitted that he had not much experience of playing alongside fellow back three players left wing Aurelien Rougerie and unpredictable fullback Clement Poitrenaud, but that a week together had done the world of good.


“We haven’t worked that much together. But we will work more intensely in the lead-up to the match,” said Fall.


“After we have been together for a week side by side, then one begins to tune in as to the style of play of the others.”


Fall is especially happy that the match comes on a Sunday as that is the day he usually reserves for his rounds of golf, though, he is not so proud of his handicap of 15.5.


“Golf brings me a feeling of serenity,” said Fall.


“When you mishit a shot you tell yourself you can take it again. Nothing is lost until the 18th hole.”

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