Once upon a long time ago, I interviewed Ian McGeechan and asked him what his perfect XV would be.

I expected him to name a ton of All Blacks, or maybe some of the Lions he had coached or even some of the Scotland Grand Slam side of 1990, but he said simply: “A team that doesn’t make mistakes.”

He was so right, and I have never been able to watch an international match since then without noticing how many errors take place over 80 minutes, especially when Scotland are playing.

Borrowing a statistic from tennis, I classify mistakes into errors and unforced errors. Mistakes will always be made when the other side is putting you under pressure, but it’s the silly errors, those committed when no opponent is near you or when you do stupid things at the breakdown that always go into the demerit section.

On Sunday, both sides made mistakes, and mad indiscipline by both XVs was rife, especially in the first half. But it was the unforced errors that really punished Scotland. Duncan Weir’s early kick to touch that hardly went forward at all, then Blair Kinghorn’s unnecessary check on Antoine Dupont after the French scrum-half had kicked down the line into touch turned a Scottish lineout into a French penalty. Credit to Kinghorn for foiling Virimi Vakatawa’s ‘try’ shortly afterwards, and just as if it looked as though France were going to steamroller us, they started making mistakes, too, two of them leading to Weir’s opening penalty.

The French error that led to Weir’s second penalty was almost laughable. I’m a big admirer of Camille Chat but you don’t ignore Wayne Barnes warning you at the breakdown. Daft penalty to give away.

Then Fraser Brown inexplicably committed more or less the same offence a couple of minutes later and the penalty led to Matthieu Joulibert’s sublime drop goal. The equalising penalty from Weir was down to a similarly silly mistake by Dylan Cretin. Before half time Scotland erratically threw away two great chances when Weir knocked on and Kinghorn kicked far too long, and then after Weir’s excellent long penalty, Jamie Ritchie dropped the ball when a good attack looked on.

I thought referee Wayne Barnes had a poor game by his standards and he should at least have yellow carded Chat for his forearm smash – ‘brace’ my bahookey - on Johnny Gray, but in truth Scotland were lucky to get to half-time all square and even a ten minute sin binning for the French hooker would not have helped too much.

Barnes also made a terrible mistake that cost Scotland the match. Gael Fickou’s inside pass to Vincent Rattez was definitely forward and I suspect that Vakatawa’s try distracted everyone from the forward pass. Barnes should have gone to the TMO for that Fickou pass and everyone whould have seen that it went forward – not by much, but definitely forward.

With the rain having fallen, the ball was slippy so mistakes were inevitable but there was no excuse for Scott Cummings dropping the ball after Kinghorn’s break – you could see he was already looking ahead when you get taught from school age to secure the ball first.

The final French penalty was not an unforced error, just the result of sheer pressure by the visitors’ pack, but from then on – apart from Stuart Hogg’s crazy final kick - it was a case of France making mistakes and Scotland failing to capitalise.

That’s the other part of McGeechan’s theory of the modern game. When one side makes errors, the other side has to make them pay, and Scotland just didn’t do that against France.

Make no mistake – France were the better team and deserved to win, and given that they are the form side in the world at the moment, you could argue that Scotland did well to keep within seven points and indeed earn a bonus point. Now all we need to get into the final against England is a miracle – Italy to beat France in Paris would certainly count as being of the miraculous variety.

The other thing to take from Sunday’s match was the absolute lack of flair. Both defences were stonewall and there was a distinct lack of ambition by both sides, something that Finn Russell would surely have put right.

So now it looks like we will be playing Ireland on finals day, and if they remember last year’s World Cup, revenge is all that will be needed to motivate the Scots while Stuart Hogg will need no reminding about his huge mistake in the 51st minute of the Six Nations match in Dublin earlier this year. Failing to touch down properly very much goes in to the definition of unforced error, so can Scotland please cut out the mistakes and start winning matches again? You know it makes sense.