PARIS, France, Feb 13 – Guy Noves insisted France’s error-riddled Six Nations victory over Scotland was not a step backwards.
The hosts claimed a 22-16 victory at the Stade de France on Sunday despite being outscored two tries to one.
But after narrow defeats against the world’s top three sides in their previous three matches, Noves said that victory, despite a slightly disjointed performance, was a step in the right direction.
“We’ve been working on a rugby that suits our qualities for a year now,” said Noves, who took over from Philippe Saint-Andre following the 2015 World Cup.
“In fairness, the many mistakes could have given that impression (that it was a step backwards), because apart from the try where we held on well to the ball, there was nothing.
“I hope this isn’t a backwards step, and I’m not sure that winning takes us backwards.
“And given everything we’ve done in the last few matches, to suggest from one match that we’ve gone backwards, that annoys me a bit.”
Having succumbed in the final 10 minutes a week earlier despite leading for much of their 19-16 defeat to England at Twickenham, Noves was particularly pleased that his side won this match in the run-in.
Tries from Stuart Hogg and Tim Swinson either side of a score by Gael Fickou had twice given Scotland the lead.
Going into the final 10 minutes the scores were level at 16-16 but Camille Lopez knocked over his fourth and fifth penalties of the afternoon to earn France the victory.
France made a lot of handling errors, in particular due to ambitious offloads not coming off, but Noves has no intention of altering their expansive style of play.
“We don’t intend changing our artillery. Once again, I’d like to point to the last quarter of an hour which this time favoured us.
“We were very strong in contact, we were beaten in the rucks so we’ll learn our lessons ahead of the trip to Ireland.
“But it’s mostly the lack of continuity in our play that dissatisfied me.”
If Noves was unhappy with his team’s rucking, frustrated Scotland coach Vern Cotter acknowledged that France were on top at the scrum.
And he said that was why his team failed to kick on from their good starts to either half.
“They obviously got the upper hand at scrum time, which gave them field position,” said the New Zealander.
“We needed field position but didn’t have it. We’ll look at a couple of turnover balls that we didn’t play effectively, but credit to the French. They played it well to the end.
“The rucks were hard work, our plan didn’t come off.”
Scotland took away the losing bonus point and will be relatively pleased with their five point haul from their opening two games.
And Cotter said his team will use this experience to motivate them ahead of their next clash against Wales in two weeks’ time.
“There is frustration and we’ll use that frustration to kick off next week’s training,” said Cotter.