Price sets out a challenge to Scotland after France setback

Gregor Townsend’s team began their warm-up to the World Cup in Japan with a 32-3 defeat.

By Press Association Published: 18 August 2019 - 11.55am

Ali Price says Scotland’s crushing loss to France in Nice is a World Cup wake-up call.

Gregor Townsend’s team depart for Japan in less than a month but they looked badly out of shape as they kicked off their warm-up schedule with a 32-3 defeat to Les Bleus.

Scotland conceded within the first 90 seconds and were breached four more times at the Allianz Riviera as they were overpowered by a French outfit who looked sharper and fitter.

By full-time, the Scots trudged off knowing that if they repeat their display in the Far East they will struggle to get out of a group containing Ireland, Russia, Samoa and the hosts.

But scrum-half Price hopes the shock display will jolt a reaction from Townsend’s men ahead of welcoming France to Murrayfield for next Saturday’s return clash.

“Everyone is pretty low,” admitted the Glasgow half-back after the match.

“We were the first 23 guys to get a shot at what we’ve been doing for the last two months and it was disappointing. It’s a pretty big wake-up call.

“If we can take anything from it it’s that it’s the first game. Things were never going to be perfect. We came here to win and we were way off.

Scotland's World Cup programme

  • France (h) August 24 - warm-up match
  • Georgia (a) August 31 - warm-up match
  • Georgia (h) September 6 - warm-up match
  • Ireland (n) September 22 - World Cup group stage
  • Samoa (n) September 30 - World Cup group stage
  • Russia (n) October 9 - World Cup group stage
  • Japan (a) October 13 - World Cup group stage

“We’ve come back from games like this before and we’re at home next week in front of our own fans.

“We get another shot at France and then we roll into two Georgia games and try and gather some momentum.

“It’s a wake-up call that we’re not just going to roll into this World Cup and get us far as we want. We’ve got to want it and other teams have been working just as hard as us. There’s lots to look at.”

Townsend will name his final 31-man squad on September 3 in between the Scots’ final two warm-up Tests against Georgia.

Price challenged his team-mates to prove how much they want a seat on the plane.

Gregor Townsend will name his World Cup squad on September 3
Gregor Townsend will name his World Cup squad on September 3 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“When you’re out on the pitch and you’re tired and you have these decisions to make, you have to question how much you want it,” he said.

“Whether you are willing to work to the end of the line to give us a bit more width, whether you’re willing to get off the line, willing to put your shoulder in – all these questions you have to ask yourself.

“There are nine guys who are not going to travel to Japan. If that was your one opportunity that was your one opportunity and you have to make of it what you can.

“Whoever gets the chance next week now to right some wrongs, I’m sure we’ll see a massive reaction.

“I don’t think you can use the fact we’ve had a hard camp so far as an excuse. I’m not speaking on behalf of everyone here, I’m saying in general you have to realise who you are representing and how much do you want this.

“How much do you want to represent your country at a World Cup? Not many people get to do it and I feel like when your backs are against the wall a bit it’s hard to remember that.

“You need to scrap and fight for everything. Defence is going to win the World Cup, not attack. The teams that defends the best and is clinical when they have the ball, I firmly believe they will win it.

“Defence is a mindset more than anything, you need to want to hit someone, want to put your body in front of someone. We just lacked that a bit.”