PARIS (Reuters) - Winning ugly against Scotland in the Six Nations was not enough on Sunday for France manager Guy Noves, who promised his team would not revert to the one-dimensional rugby played during the last World Cup.
After promising performances in narrow defeats against Australia and New Zealand last November and against England last weekend, Les Bleus put on an untidy display at the Stade de France with flyhalf Camille Lopez kicking 17 points in their 22-16 victory.
“We had lost three matches against top teams playing great rugby and today we will be happy with the win,” Noves, who put flair back into the French game, told a news conference.
“I‘m also happy with the last 15 minutes, which is where we lost against England (19-16). We are frustrated with the game we played but for once we’re happy with the result.”
“We were under pressure to win this game and that played a part, but I‘m happy for the players because a week ago we were ahead of England with nine minutes left and lost because we lacked character,” added Noves.
Asked whether he would revert to playing conservative rugby like France did under previous manager Philippe Saint-Andre, he quipped: “We’ve been working hard for a year to play a style of rugby that suits our qualities so we are not going to change everything now.”
France scored one try through Gael Fickou after 18 phases, but wasted a huge chance of adding another when fellow centre Remi Lamerat spilled the ball over the line in the second half.
“We made too many mistakes, that’s why our game looked poor today but I don’t think today was a step back,” said Noves, who praised his team’s “great defence” and underlined areas of improvement ahead of the Ireland trip in two weeks.
“The Scots made us suffer in the rucks,” he said.
“We know what we’ll have to work on for our next match,” said captain Guilhem Guirado.
Scotland coach Vern Cotter refused to blame the loss of the injured Greig Laidlaw in the first half.
“We do not make excuses. This experience will help us in the future,” he told a news conference.
“Credit to the French team, they applied pressure, it was physical.”
Scotland next host Wales at Murrayfield.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Neil Robinson