France full-back Brice Dulin has admitted that he “made a bad decision” in the dying minutes of his side’s narrow 6 Nations defeat to Scotland after conceding a penalty which resulted in the visitors snatching victory with the final play of the game.
Coming into the final game of the tournament, Fabien Galthié’s men had to beat Scotland by over 20 points and score four tries or more to overhaul Wales and claim the title, but the hosts fell well short of that target, ultimately losing 27-23 after the 80 minutes were up.
France had all but won the game after Scotland coughed up possession deep in the opposition 22, and it was expected that Dulin, who was the recipient of the loose ball, to kick the ball dead and end the game. Instead, Dulin took the ball into contact and France conceded a penalty. 18 phases later and Duhan van der Merwe crashed over for his second try to steal the win at the death.
While many were quick to criticise Dulin for not tapping the ball into touch, the full-back said that it was not in fact his intention to take the ball into contact.
Speaking to Midi Olympique, Dulin said: “Charles Ollivon passed me the ball in the pocket. I decided to tap the ball [into touch] and at the moment I turned, I saw a Scottish player [centre Chris Harris] arriving.
“In my head, we had the advantage because the ball had come out of the ruck and I thought it was a knock-on. I should have turned towards my in-goal area and got rid of the ball, like we had done earlier in the tournament.
“With the fatigue, the decision making and the execution was all a bit less fast than an action at the start of the match. And unfortunately, we conceded the penalty, which forced us to defend a long period of Scottish attack and we lost the match.
“It was really my decision making which was bad.”
Dulin shouldered the blame but the truth of the matter was that, as a collective, France did not play to the excellent standards they had shown throughout the 6 Nations, most notably against Wales the previous week where they enjoyed a reverse of what happened last Friday.
And while a second defeat of the tournament was undoubtedly a bitter pill to swallow for les bleus, the last-minute loss did not affect France’s finishing position in the 6 Nations, ending up second for the second consecutive season.
You can see the moment 6:44 into the highlights below