Rugby Union: Magne shows the magnificence

Scotland 16 France 51 Try: Stanger Tries: M Lievremont 2 Pens: Chalmers 3 Bernat-Salles 2, Califano Con: Chalmers Carbonneau, Castaignede Cons: Lamaison 2, Castaignede 3 Pens : Lamaison, Castaignede; Half-time: 9-22 Attendance: 55,000
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UNLESS Brian Ashton can somehow inspire the Irish to defy all logic in Paris on Saturday week, history will be beckoning France down Wembley Way on the first Sunday afternoon in April. Just a year after celebrating the first Gallic Grand Chelem ever clinched on home soil, the French cockerel is ready to crow about the novelty of a slam secured in the twin towered home of English football. Victory at Murrayfield yesterday, only the second in two decades by a French XV in the Scottish capital, has left France half way to the grand feat of a second perfect Five Nations' Championship campaign in successive seasons.

In doing so, the team fashioned in the inspirational image of its coaching gurus, Jean-Claude Skrela and Pierre Villepreux, left the record book and the hosts in tatters. Their winning margin was the rugby equivalent of a Royal Mile: 35 points, a record against Scotland. The previous biggest French win in Scotland, 11-3 in 1962, was revised with a vengeance. So was the theory that France leave behind their trademark flair whenever they venture north of Hadrian's Wall. They ran in seven tries and even set up the consolation Scottish score, Tony Stanger gratefully profiting from Thomas Castaignede's mis- kick to mark his 50th cap with his 23rd try for his country. Olivier Magne made no impression on the scoresheet, but only in the literal sense. The Brive flanker was the man as well as the Magne of the match. Four of the French tries came courtesy of his silver-platter service.

So impressed was Jim Telfer, the Scotland coach, by Magne and his colleagues, he described them as "probably the best footballing team I've ever seen. They played the kind of rugby we want to aspire to. Everything they did was at pace." And it was done with such devastating effect that, Gary Armstrong, the Scottish captain, said: "It felt like they had four more players than us."

Only in the opening 10 minutes, were France remotely troubled. They were unsettled by the right boot of Craig Chalmers, the veteran outside- half launching the Garryowen and the left-corner touch-finder that prompted the two penalties he landed to give Scotland a 6-0 lead. The trouble was the Scots peaked with 70 minutes still to play - and with France yet to move out of first gear. Once Raphael Ibanez and his men stepped on the gas, the final outcome was inevitable.

The first breach came in the 13th minute. Chalmers did well to stop Philippe Bernat-Salles drifting over on the right but from the ruck that followed Marc Lievremont picked up and zipped over the Scottish line with the speed of a three-quarter. Christophe Lamaison converted and eight minutes later the same combination of scorers doubled the French tally to 14 points. The architect of the second try, though, was Jean-Luc Sadourny. The Colomiers full-back caught Scotland playing defensive statues from a quickly taken tapped-penalty on the 22 and rode three tackles before feeding Marc, the elder of the Lievremont brothers, who could afford the luxury of sauntering in from the right to touch down directly behind the posts.

A Chalmers penalty reduced the deficit to five points but only briefly. First Lamaison landed a penalty and then, just beyond the half-hour mark, France unleashed the move of the match. It started on the left touchline of the Scottish 22, Fabien Pelous taking the line-out catch that ended with Bernat-Salles touching down in the opposite corner - via some of the slickest midfield handling seen in these parts and a vital burst and feed by Magne.

Dropped by France for their autumn tests against the Springboks, Magne fashioned and finished the try of the match in the 47-20 Paris mismatch between the teams last March and he tormented the Scots again yesterday. He executed the scoring pass for the fourth French try, seven minutes into the second half, teeing up Christian Califano for a charge-over on the left. That, though, was a production line assist compared with the pick up and grubber kick that gave Bernat-Salles his second try, in the right corner in the 56th minute. Castaignede, having assumed kicking duties after Lamaison failed to appear for the second half, added the conversion to an earlier penalty, but made a hash of the chip-kick he attempted on the halfway line in the 68th minute.

Rob Wainwright gathered possession and worked the ball, via Alan Tait and the debutant Derrick Lee, to Stanger, who galloped clear for his 23rd international try - one short of Ian Smith's ancient Scottish record. Chalmers' conversion would have been a consoling final mark on the scoresheet. France, however, were not finished. Injury-time had already dawned when Philippe Carbonneau intercepted on the Scottish 22 and raced over in front of the posts. Castaignede converted and then sprinted through the posts himself three minutes later and kicked the bonus points again. It was not, though, a score of the peroxide-blonde's own making. He was given a clear run to the line by Magne, the magnificent man of the match.

Scotland: D Lee (London Scottish); A Stanger (Hawick), A Tait (Newcastle), G Townsend (Northampton), K Logan (Wasps); C Chalmers (Melrose) (Longstaff, 78), G Armstrong (Newcastle, capt); D Hilton (Bath) (Graham, 66), G Bulloch (West of Scotland), M Stewart (Northampton), D Cronin (Wasps) (Grimes, 20), G Weir (Newcastle), R Wainwright (Dundee HSFP), P Walton (Newcastle) (Roxburgh, 64), S Holmes (London Scottish).

France: J-L Sadourny (Colomiers); P Bernat-Salles (Pau), C Lamaison (Brive) (Aucagne, 40), S Glas (Bourgoin), C Dominici (Stade Francais); T Castaignede (Castres), P Carbonneau (Brive); C Califano (Toulouse), R Ibanez (Dax, capt), F Tournaire (Toulouse) (Soulette, 77), F Pelous (Toulouse) (Cleda, 80), O Brouzet (Begles-Bordeaux), M Lievremont (Stade Francais) (Benetton, 77), T Lievremont (Perpignan), O Magne (Brive).

Referee: P O'Brien (New Zealand)