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News24.com | Gray backs French ‘crazy depth’ to overcome Covid crisis

Richie Gray (Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Richie Gray (Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Scotland’s Richie Gray believes the “crazy depth” of French rugby union will ensure his side still face a tough challenge during their Six Nations clash in Paris this weekend, despite the tournament leaders’ coronavirus problems.

Sunday’s match is set to go ahead as scheduled, officials announced Wednesday, even though 15 France players and staff including captain Charles Ollivon, scrum-half Antoine Dupont and coach Fabien Galthie contracted the virus after a February 14 win against Ireland in Dublin.

But a near ‘3rd XV’ France side missing several star names because of player-release agreements with Top 14 clubs only lost December’s Autumn Nations Cup final against England at Twickenham in sudden death extra-time.

And Scotland lock Gray, who knows French rugby well from his time with Toulouse and Castres lock, told reporters on Wednesday: “The challenge will still be just as tough. French rugby, they have crazy depth.

“A good example of that is the England game in the autumn, when I think it was dubbed the French third team. But they went over to England and almost pulled off a victory.

“They can cough up a lot of players and there is a lot of talent. Any time you play France in France it’s going to be a really tough challenge. So we need to be prepared for that.”

Scotland have not beaten France in Paris for more than 20 years but head into this weekend’s match knowing they have ended long waits for victories in Wales and England in recent months.

“It was an opportunity if they didn’t have players missing,” said Gray.

“It’s been 1999 since we last won there, so it’s a great opportunity to go over there, produce a performance and hopefully get a win.

“But everyone is aware of how tough it will be.”

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