Dupont's France to 'get back on their feet' against Scotland

France captain Antoine Dupont said on Saturday the title holders will look to bounce back from defeat at Ireland by hosting Scotland in the Six Nations this weekend.

The loss in Dublin two weeks ago was Les Bleus first defeat in 14 games, a run stretching back to July 2021.

Since Fabien Galthie took over as head coach in 2020, this year's Rugby World Cup hosts have lost just seven games.

"We have a mindset that we haven't known for almost two years," Dupont told reporters.

"We're in a different situation, we have to get back on our feet.

"We will continue to do what we have done for three seasons, it's what  has worked and what needs to work this weekend," he added.

Scrum-half Dupont played two full games - 160 minutes - in France's opening win over Italy and the loss in Dublin and has featured 14 times for his club Toulouse this term.

The 26-year-old has failed to have the impact in recent outings compared to his performances when he led his side to last year's Grand Slam.

"This season I've never had so much rest during my senior career," Dupont said.

"Toulouse's coaching staff have tried to give me time to recover.

"Unfortunately it's not the Toulouse or other Top 14 coaches who organise the schedule, it's the league and the broadcasters and we suffer from that.

"I don't worry about my game time, when I'm on the field I give it my all. We'll do the maths at the end," he added.

On Sunday, Dupont will come up against former Toulouse team-mate in Scotland lock Richie Gray.

Gray's visitors have won just once at the Stade de France since claiming the Five Nations in 1999.

They have started this year's tournament with two victories for the first time in the Six Nations.

"We've certainly got the internal belief," Gray told reporters.

"It's always been there in the last couple of years but thankfully that's been transformed on the pitch, certainly in the first couple of games.

"This is a massive challenge, we're under no illusions to how big this is and a challenge it will be," he added.

- Happy memories -

Scotland beat England in the opening round of the competition and claimed a record victory over Wales a week later.

Along with world number one side Ireland, who they face on March 12, Gray's outfit is the only team still in with a chance of claiming a Grand Slam.

"We know it's a big occasion, the context with the championship," 33-year-old Gray said.

"There's a danger of that, letting you hype it too much and you go on the field and you potentially play within yourselves," he added.

The 2.05-metre forward's most recent appearance at the Stade de France was the 2019 Top 14 final victory with Toulouse.

That day, he featured against one of his France opponents this weekend in Clermont winger Damian Penaud and alongside six of them, including Dupont.

"I've got happy memories from the last time I played here," Gray said.

"I've played against and with a lot of the guys who will be taking to the field tomorrow.

"That's a wee bit extra, but that doesn't take away from the job I’ve got to do tomorrow," he added.