EDINBURGH – Duhan van der Merwe is ready to put thoughts of a Scotland try record aside in the cause of team success when the Dark Blues take on Italy in the Six Nations in March.

The dashing wing is now just one shy of Stuart Hogg’s all-time Scottish mark of 27 tries after his superb hat-trick in last weekend’s 30-21 win over England at Murrayfield.

Perhaps even more impressive is the South Africa-born van der Merwe’s strike-rate, with his 26 tries for Scotland coming in just 37 Tests.

By contrast, recently retired full-back Hogg ended his Scotland career with 27 tries in 100 internationals.

Six Nations champions Ireland remain on course for a Grand Slam but the Scots’ fourth straight win over England left them in contention for a first title since they won the final Five Nations in 1999.

And the 28-year-old van der Merwe said he would be happy to stay off the scoresheet if it meant Scotland defeating Italy in a fourth-round encounter at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on March 9.

“We want to start winning stuff as a team,” he said. “For me, the team is always first. If that means I have to give the pass and not score myself, then I have to do it. If I don’t score but we get the win, I’ll be a happy man.”

Van der Merwe’s treble on Feb 24 meant he became the first Scotland player in the 153-year history of rugby union’s oldest international fixture to score a hat-trick against England. He has now also scored six tries in four winning appearances against England since making his Calcutta Cup debut in 2021.

“I don’t know what it is, but I obviously love scoring against England so it’s pretty special,” he added.

Meanwhile, Fabien Galthie’s position as France head coach is “absolutely not in danger”, French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Florian Grill said on Feb 26 after the side’s Six Nations title hopes were dealt a massive blow with the drab draw against Italy.

Les Bleus have won just once so far this tournament, a narrow win at Scotland, sandwiched between a humbling at home to Ireland and the 13-13 draw with the Azzurri in Lille on Feb 25.

Galthie’s out-of-form outfit still seem to be suffering after October’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat by South Africa in Paris.

“I’m not the type of person to make swift changes due to pressure,” Grill said.

“It’s not a decision made based on one game… Fabien Galthie is absolutely not under pressure.”

Next up for France is March 10‘s Six Nations trip to Wales. AFP

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