Though any early hopes the Scots had of winning the championship for the first time in its 21-year history were left in tatters by back-to-back defeats by Wales and Ireland, albeit only by four points altogether, they’re still in with a punt at achieving their highest finish yet and that’s all the motivation they need to give it their best shot, says the Borderer.
Scotland won the final Five Nations back in 1999 and that’s also the last time they beat the French in Paris.
Since Italy were added to the equation in 2000, though, making it the Six Nations, they’ve never finished higher than third, a feat they achieved in 2001, 2006, 2013 and 2018.
Gregor Townsend’s team could finish second this time round, however, if they beat France by eight points or more tonight at the Stade de France. Even should they manage that, though, if their hosts secure a four-try bonus point and Scotland fail to, Fabien Galthié’s side would still claim second spot.
Scotland could also finish second if they pick up a bonus-point victory and prevent France getting two bonus points of their own.
France, on the other hand, could leapfrog Wales and win the Six Nations if they run up a bonus-point win by 21 points or more or a bonus-point win by 20 points featuring at least six tries.
That’s an outcome ex-Hawick player Hogg, 28, and his team-mates will be hoping to prevent.
“For the neutrals, it could be a cracking game of rugby,” he told the Scottish Rugby’s website.
“They’re going to come out all guns blazing, ready to attack because they’ve got 20-odd points to beat us by.
“That’s a challenge on its own for us.
“We know fine well what they’re about.
“Everybody has written us off in terms of what we can do, but we’re hugely excited about going out there.
“If we beat them by eight points, we finish the highest we ever have done in the Six Nations and that’s a big motivating factor for us.
“It’s a challenge but one we’re very much looking forward to facing.”
No 8 Matt Fagerson is ruled out of the match with an ankle injury picked up in training, but Nick Haining has been called up from the bench to take his place, with Ryan Wilson in turn taking his place among the replacements.
“First and foremost, we hope that Matt is all right,” added Exeter Chiefs star Hogg.
“He’s been massive for us during this campaign, and we wish him a very speedy recovery.
“With that comes an opportunity for Nick Haining to start. He’s been very, very good, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do, then there’s also Ryan Wilson.
“He’s one hell of a character to have back within the squad. He’s got a chance to win his 50th, so it’s a hugely special moment for him.
“Hopefully, we can do these guys justice by putting in a good performance.”
See also …