Six Nations 2015: Greig Laidlaw wants to create new Paris memories
Greig Laidlaw wants to create special memories with a win over France in Paris
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw wants to create special memories with a win over France in Paris on Saturday.
Like all of the current squad, the 29-year-old Gloucester Rugby scrum-half has never defeated Les Bleus on their own turf.
As players, we want to win more than anybody. If we can win out there we know we will go down in history. It’s been a long time between drinks.
The last side to do so was Jim Telfer’s Scotland in 1999, the last iteration of the Five Nations. It was a side packed with now-famous Scottish names, among them Townsend, Leslie, Tait, Logan, Armstrong, Murray and Metcalfe.
They were the last of the Dark Blues to taste championship success as their unexpected 36-22 win at the Stade de France ultimately won them the title when England suffered an agonising last-minute 32-31 defeat to Wales at Wembley Stadium a day later.
“If you look back through the years, the teams who managed to get a win in Paris regard it as special,” Laidlaw said.
“As players, we want to win more than anybody. If we can win out there we know we will go down in history.
“It’s been a long time between drinks.”
Odds, however, are firmly against Vern Cotter’s Scotland. Of 42 visits to France, excluding the 2007 Rugby World Cup campaign, Scotland have won just 11 times.
Scotland have had good performances in the past but then fallen down. That’s something we are very wary of and want to fix.
Their record in the Six Nations era doesn’t make for great reading either – just a solitary win over the French to their name in 16 matches, which came at Murrayfield in 2006 when Sean Lamont bagged a brace in a 20-16 win for Frank Hadden’s side.
Only Lamont, now 34 and nine caps short of joining Chris Paterson in the very exclusive Scotland centurions club, remains from the team that lined up that day, although hooker Ross Ford was also in the extended squad that year.
But this is New Scotland, and there is no shortage of desire to succeed or belief they can do it, built around a robust defence with explosive backs armed with plenty of tricks.
The viagogo Autumn Tests in November proved that when they pushed New Zealand, the reigning world champions, for almost 80 minutes in a narrow defeat, while the 10 tries yielded from wins over Argentina and Tonga showed that the problem of not scoring enough tries was a thing of the recent past.
Despite that, Scotland remain a development side that is progressing quicker than Italy and can probably threaten the big four nations, but may not do enough to win more than two or three matches.
And Laidlaw admits that they are determined to change that attitude, starting in Paris on Saturday.
“We’re probably not that highly rated by the other nations,” he added.
“There is only one way to fix that. We need to put in performances and win matches.
“People always have their opinions about what happens out on the field, but what’s gone is gone.
“We just need to look to the next game because you can’t keep going over what has already happened.
“Scotland have had good performances in the past but then fallen down. That’s something we are very wary of and want to fix.”
Awaiting Laidlaw and his colleagues will be a France squad in a similar position: not fancied, still developing, and with a point to prove.
Like Scotland, they will bring a lot of physicality up front, but with a potentially ruthless backline waiting to pounce in attack or defence, as wing Yoann Huget did last year at BT Murrayfield to intercept an unnecessarily ambitious pass from Duncan Weir before running away for a crucial score, which went a long way to deciding the contest.
The former Edinburgh captain is well aware of the task at hand, but prefers to look ahead rather than dwell on past failures.
“It will be a hugely physical test come Saturday,” he said
“The French have a big scrum and some dangerous backs who are starting to play a bit more now.
“The opposition have had a big say in our record over there – you are always playing against 15 top internationals.
“But sometimes there is that Scottish mentality when you do good things and then bad. We need to get rid of that.”