Six Nations 2024: Jamie Ritchie dropped as Rory Darge returns for Scotland against France

Rory Darge is fit to make his 16th appearance for Scotland
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Saturday, 10 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, BBC Radio Scotland Extra & live text on the BBC Sport website and app

Scotland co-captain Rory Darge is fit to start against France at Murrayfield in the Six Nations – but there is no place for former captain Jamie Ritchie.

Darge, 23, missed the win in Wales and is joined in the back row by Jack Dempsey, with Luke Crosbie injured and Ritchie dropping out.

However, head coach Gregor Townsend was quick to insist Ritchie would be “in the mix” to face England next.

Grant Gilchrist is back from a ban to replace injured lock Richie Gray.

Kyle Rowe continues at full-back with Blair Kinghorn out with a knee problem.

Andy Christie earns a place on the bench after Dempsey was promoted to the starting line-up.

Dempsey takes the number eight jersey, with Matt Fagerson shifting to blindside flanker and Darge operating on the openside.

“Once we knew Luke was out and Rory was available we had a good look and we’ve gone with a Glasgow back row and the cohesion they have,” explained Townsend.

“Rory is an out and out seven and we feel the carrying strengths of Matt and Jack gives us a better mix this week.

“Rory is so committed. He has a really unusual way of carrying the ball, which means he can slip through tackles, and his ability over the ball in defence is up there with the best in the world. He’s so clean and efficient.

“Andy was close to starting but, off the bench, he can cover all three positions.”

France started with a 38-17 home defeat by defending champions Ireland, while Scotland clung on for a dramatic 27-26 victory in Cardiff.

Townsend thought Ritchie had been constrained “because of the way the game was being refereed on our side” as Scotland conceded penalty after penalty and lost two players to yellow cards in a ragged second-half display.

“Jamie has responded outstandingly well as a person and as teammate and he’ll be in the mix again for our next game against England,” he added.

Scotland and France met three times in 2023, with Townsend’s side falling to a 32-21 Six Nations defeat in Paris, while the spoils were shared in two warm-up games before the World Cup.

“France know they didn’t play their best rugby against Ireland, so we’ll get a reaction,” said Townsend.

“We know they are a quality team, still top three or four in the world.

“We’ve had some cracking games with them over the last 12 months and we’ll have to be at our best level physically. The previous games have opened up, which suits the strengths of our players.”

The visitors, without superstar scrum-half, Antoine Dupont make two changes as Louis Bielle-Biarrey starts ahead of Yoram Moefana on the wing and lock Cameron Woki replaces Paul Willemse, who was given a four week ban for his red card last week.

Scotland: Rowe; Steyn, H Jones, Tuipulotu, Van der Merwe; Russell (co-capt), White; Schoeman, Turner, Z Fagerson, Gilchrist, Cummings, M Fagerson, Darge (co-capt), Dempsey.

Replacements: Ashman, Hepburn, Millar-Mills, Skinner, Christie, G Horne, Healy, Redpath.

France: Ramos, Penaud, Fickou, Danty, Bielle-Biarrey, Jailbert, Lucu; Baille Mauvaka, Antonio, Woki, Gabrillagues, Cros, Ollivon, Alldritt (capt).

Replacements: Marchand, Taofifenua, Aldegheri, Tuilagi, Roumat, Boudehent, Le Garrec, Moefana.

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