Scotland recall Dunbar for France in Six Nations

Alex Dunbar returns for Scotland

Scotland have recalled centre Alex Dunbar for their Six Nations Championship match against France at Murrayfield on Sunday.

Dunbar is now set to make his first international appearance in more than a year after the Glasgow midfielder ruptured knee ligaments last year.

The centre’s return to international rugby has been delayed by several injury problems but he will now return this weekend.

Dunbar has replaced Mark Bennett and having his 16-stone (101 kgs) presence at inside centre alongside Duncan Taylor should help shore up Scotland’s defence when they confront a powerful French midfield.

In the only other change to the run-on team that beat Italy 36-20 in Rome on February 27 — a victory that ended a dismal Scottish run of nine Six Nations matches without a win — coach Vern Cotter has picked Dunbar’s Glasgow team-mate Josh Strauss at No 8 in place of Ryan Wilson, who has to settle for a place on the bench.

“The win in Rome was a reward for the hard work the players have put in to the championship so far, but the hard work never stops,” said Cotter in a Scottish Rugby Union statement issued Friday. “We must be relentless.”

Cotter, who knows French rugby well having spent eight years in charge of Top 14 club Clermont prior to his Scotland appointment, added: “We’re expecting the French to be physical. They have a culture of trying to dominate their opposition.

“They are confrontational and will try to keep the ball alive, so we will have to put in a great defensive performance,” the New Zealander explained.

“They also have the ability to channel their power through their set-piece, though that is a challenge our pack in particular are relishing, having put in some impressive performances of their own so far.

“We’re looking forward to varying our game, holding the ball and striving to score at every opportunity.

“Work-rate and concentration will be key, and a sustained effort for 80 minutes will be very important.”

Greig Laidlaw, the Scotland captain, is set to win his 50th cap on Sunday. In the process the scrum-half will equal the Scotland record of 25 Tests as captain currently held by former prop David Sole.

Scotland have not beaten France since a 20-16 success at Murrayfield in 2006, a victory followed by a run of 10 straight defeats against Les Bleus in all competitions.

France, under new coach Guy Noves, have won two of their three matches thus far in the Six Nations but were beaten 19-10 by Wales in Cardiff last time out.


Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor, Alex Dunbar, Tim Visser; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Josh Strauss, John Hardie, John Barclay; Jonny Gray, Richie Gray; Willem Nel, Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson

Replacements: Stuart McInally, Rory Sutherland, Moray Low, Tim Swinson, Ryan Wilson, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Peter Horne, Sean Lamont

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