RBS 6 Nations Betting: Back Cotter's new breed to stun France

That winning feeling as Greig Laidlaw and his team mates celebrate beating Ireland
That winning feeling as Greig Laidlaw and his team mates celebrate beating Ireland

A shock opening win over Ireland heralded a breakthrough for Scotland. Ralph Ellis has looked at reasons why there could be more to come.

"Scotland are 3.613/5 in the Match Odds away to France, despite the fact they haven’t won in Paris in 18 years. But if ever they are to break that run it will be now."

My nephew is ferociously proud of his Scottish roots. Born and raised near Dundee for the first ten years of his life, when he gets married later this year he's having waistcoats made for us all from the appropriate tartan of his dad's clan.

We went to help him organise it, and the mountain of different types of checks in the shop seemed to go on forever. Gordon (which was his), Royal Stuart, Donald, Grant, MacDougall, Robertson. Where do you begin?

Among the names you couldn't find, however, were Maitland, Strauss and Nel. Which appeared odd as they seem to have been mainstays for the Scottish rugby team for the last couple of years.

The Scots, of course, have played the qualification system as brilliantly as anybody. In the 2015 World Cup more than a third of their squad were born elsewhere and integrated either through grandparents or the ludicrous three-year residential qualification rule. At a time when they seemed to have stopped producing their own elite rugby players, their Kiwi coach Vern Cotter used the rules to find some from all over the world.

But something is changing. With WP Nel ruled out of the current Six Nations because of injury his place is going not to another foreigner but to 21-year-old Zander Fagerson, born in Perth. And he's just one of a new breed of exciting young, genuinely Scottish talents.

Cotter's pragmatic approach is paying dividends because the players he found are influencing the next generation and there are signs that the combination is producing a winning team.

The thrilling way they fought off a second half comeback to hang on and beat Ireland 27-22 in their first match of this year's tournament was a significant breakthrough. And it suggests there could be value in backing the Scots to pull off another shock on Sunday.

Scotland are 3.613/5 in the Match Odds away to France, despite the fact they haven't won in Paris in 18 years. But if ever they are to break that run it will be now.

The wooden spoon team when Cotter first took over, they have come a long way and still curse their luck over the dodgy refereeing decisions that cost them a World Cup quarter-final triumph over Australia.

The point about the Ireland game, however, was that for the first time the hard luck stories were replaced by a driving determination to hang on to their lead and inspired by the kicking and tactical acumen of Greig Laidlaw and the ferocious tackling of 22-year-old Jonny Gray they closed out the win.

Cotter, who spent 20 years of his career playing and coaching in France, has been identifying the weaknesses in a French pack which is powerful, heavy, but ponderously slow. And he can now produce a game plan with the confidence that his players have the mentality to stick to it. (The Scots are 1.9210/11 to win with a 6.5point handicap.)

The irony of course is that the 55-year-old is in charge for his final Six Nations. He's been told he'll lose his job this summer when Gregor Townsend will take over but he has the chance to go out on a high.

There isn't currently a Cotter tartan among the thousands on the official Scottish register. Win in Paris, though, and maybe they might think about creating one.

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