Scottish Universities struggled against a clinical French Universities side at Blagnac Sporting Club in Toulouse earlier this month. Their unyielding defensive efforts could not prevent a flurry of ten French tries compounding a 57-0 victory for the hosts.
The imbalance between the sides was as evident on paper as it was on the pitch; nearly all the French team were contracted to professional clubs. Nevertheless, the Scots remained determined as they took the field to the raptures of the 3000 strong crowd.
The French professionalism was evident throughout the opening period and their opponents failed to match up to the pace and expansiveness of their attack. Within the first twenty minutes the Scots were on the receiving end of five French tries.
The Scots managed to weather the storm somewhat but such was the French domination of field position it left the Scots with a massive task to build any continuity in attack. Failing to breach the French defence the Scots became frantic and the French turned Scottish errors into points.
After the break a further spell of five tries in quick succession, denied Scotland any chance of a comeback. The match finished 57-0.
In spite of the scoreline, Scottish Universities Coach Chris Reekie remained upbeat about his team’s performance: “The students’ commitment to their defensive duties could not be faulted. It is never easy to play rugby without the ball.
“The youngsters put in a massive effort with Aberdeen’s Dom Dunnett covering every inch of the pitch. Stirling’s Callum Mark made a couple of telling runs on the few occasions we had control of the ball.
“It was a credit to all the players the score was not higher, the hard work and structure put in over the last three years was evident. Yet the gulf in class cannot be disguised, this French side would give any of our Scottish professional development sides a close contest.”
The students intend to take the lessons learned into the next games against English Colleges on 28 February and Irish Colleges on 13 March, both at Lasswade.
Photos from the match can be viewed at www.susphoto.com.