Scotland’s squad arrived in France to a warm reception this afternoon - four days before they play their first Rugby World Cup match in St Etienne against Portugal.
Some 200 people, many waving saltires, gathered at St Etienne airport, to welcome coach Frank Hadden, captain Jason White and the Scotland party. Locals presented the players with gifts - a red beret - which soon became the focus for many photographs.
The journey on a charter direct from Edinburgh Airport took just 100 minutes and the players were in relaxed mood as they mingled with their hosts.
White said: “We know from the planning trips our management have undertaken that there’s considerable affection for Scotland in this part of France and that was underlined by the fantastic welcome we received today.”
Nine years ago the Scotland football team played in St Etienne during their World Cup and the impression created by the Tartan Army is fondly remembered to this day.
Hadden told local media that it was his first trip to the 200,000 population city in central eastern France. “However I do remember going to Hampden Park in Glasgow as a student in 1976 when St Etienne played Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup football final.” Diplomatically he didn’t mention that St Etienne lost that match 1-0.
Scotland are staying adjacent to a superb training complex in the suburb of L’Etrat - about half-way between the airport and St Etienne town centre.
Tomorrow they will attend a formal media conference in the town hall before opening the doors to the public to their training session at L’Etrat at 2pm.
The team for Sunday’s game at Stade Geoffroy Guichard against Portugal will be announced on Friday.
First details will be here on the Scottish Rugby website.