Castaignède predicts exciting encounter
Former France international Thomas Castaignède played 54 times for his country and is now part of the BBC analysis team. He spoke exclusively to Scottish Rugby ahead of this weekend’s game with France. Read the feature interview with him before it's published in Sunday’s match programme.
Flair, finesse, fleet of foot. Thomas Castaignède displayed all three attributes and plenty more besides as part of a French team that won back-to-back Five Nations titles in 1997 and 1998.
As versatile as they come, Castaignède featured at stand-off, centre, wing and full-back across his 54 caps, a total that reaped 252 points in a 12-year international career.
As part of the BBC analysis team, the former pivot thinks that the current crop of Gallic talent can achieve great things: “Beating England [in round one] showed the public that this team can deliver under pressure,” he said.
“They showed more discipline and a physicality that was needed to beat a good team. Now they need to go and win away from home to show that they can grow into a top team.”
That need to win away from Paris leads France to BT Murrayfield, where they have failed to win since a narrow 19-17 success six years ago.
Castaignède knows the task will be challenging and anticipates a free-flowing game, adding: “I would choose to watch Scotland if I wasn’t French because they’re so exciting as a team. I always think that if they got everything right they could win Grand Slams because they have the game for it.
“It’s disappointing that they have not got that level of consistency yet but they are such a dangerous team and if they could have a fully fit squad, they could break through that ceiling.”
The French playmaker is a big fan of Stuart Hogg being given the Scottish captaincy and thinks he will grow into the role: “He is so committed, so intense, and he will gain composure from being captain.
“Stuart is one of the few players I can think of that would honestly be picked for an All Blacks squad and that’s the biggest compliment I can pay him. Transition is not easy so it will take time for him to adjust to captaincy but it’s a good appointment and I’m sure he will flourish.”
Castaignède naturally hopes Hogg’s tenure hits a bump in the road this afternoon, but anticipates an exciting match regardless, adding: “If we get a nice sunny day then I’m sure the fans will be treated to a great match. Edinburgh is such a tough place to visit and we haven’t won there for a while so it will be a good test for this new French squad and coaching team.”
This interview will feature in the print matchday programme for Scotland v France on Sunday 8 March.