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Rugby Union: France v Ireland RBS 6 Nations 2010 Preview

This is the match we have been looking forward to since the culmination of the Autumn Internationals indicated that the current RBS 6 Nations holders, Ireland, would face a stern test against France in the 2010 RBS 6 Nations.

At the time, we were looking forward to Paris following Ireland’s completion of a year without loss, and France’s stamp of authority that was shown when they took Southern Hemisphere opposition apart. At the time, France looked like at least top two in the world – with Ireland close behind.

Home advantage for the French, and the way they cruised to a classy victory at Murrayfield last week shows why Ireland have a mountain to climb this evening in today’s later kickoff (4:30pm GMT), despite the fact that they haven’t lost a game of rugby since 2008 – an impressive span of 12 games in total.

If anything is to be learned of these two sides in terms of mental strength, however, it is that Ireland are not easily beaten. Australia looked to have taken out their Edinburgh rage against the Irish in the Autumn, only for the men in green to dig out reserves of spirit that must surely worry even the most confident of French rugby fans. The Irish backs seemed able to turn on the try-scoring tap by sheer force of will, when it mattered most.

With injury to Sexton, his main rival for his position making his place more certain last week, Ronan O’Gara just might play with the freedom and inventiveness which once made him the second name on the Irish teamsheet – Brian O’Driscoll being the first – and both of these men have it within them to turn a game with a match winning move. O’Gara may be the more important, however, as Ireland must seek out and take three point opportunities when they come. Sexton is back on the bench should he slip.

The Irish forwards are formidable – perhaps the best in the world – and they will surely work through phases which lead to penalties. The question is whether or not they can defend against a French fifteen which is strong throughout.

France will look to apply pressure from the start, and have the creativity in their backs to take at least a try from each half. However, using this is dependent upon getting quick ball – no simple task when you have players like David Wallace and Stephen Ferris frustrating at the breakdown.

Ireland will surely need to cross the line at least once, one would feel, if they are to stay within touching distance of their hosts. O’Driscoll looks the most likely candidate to break the line, and he is ably flanked by pacey wing-men – full back Robert Kearney is no slouch either – so there is plenty of support which should see at least one try today for the visiting team.

The scoreline at Paris will most likely be under a ten point margin for probably the full match – it is probably a five point game, which  hinges on three key elements: whether or not Ireland can restrict France to just one (or fewer) tries in their own back yard; whether Ireland can get at least one try for themselves; and Ronan O’Gara must miss nothing simple, and perhaps nothing at all, if Ireland are to overcome the odds and keep alive their dreams of back-to-back 6 Nations Grand Slams.

France should take this match, just don’t bet on the Irish knowing when they are beaten.

France Lineup:

  1. Thomas Domingo
  2. William Servat
  3. Nicolas Mas
  4. Lionel Nallet
  5. Pascal Pape
  6. Thierry Dusautoir
  7. Fulgence Ouedraogo
  8. Imanol Harinordoquy
  9. Morgan Parra
  10. Francois Trinh-Duc
  11. Alexis Palisson
  12. Yannick Jauzion
  13. Mathieu Bastareaud
  14. Vincent Clerc
  15. Clement Poitrenaud
  16. Dimitri Szarzewski
  17. Sylvain Marconnet
  18. Julien Pierre
  19. Julien Bonnaire
  20. Frederic Michalak
  21. David Marty
  22. Julien Malzieu

Coach: Marc Lievremont

Ireland Lineup

  1. Cian Healy
  2. Jerry Flannery
  3. John Hayes
  4. Leo Cullen
  5. Paul O’Connell
  6. Stephen Ferris
  7. David Wallace
  8. James Heaslip
  9. Tomas O’Leary
  10. Ronan O’Gara
  11. Keith Earls
  12. Gordon D’Arcy
  13. Brian O’Driscoll
  14. Tommy Bowe
  15. Robert Kearney
  16. Rory Best
  17. Tom Court
  18. Donnacha Ryan
  19. Sean O’Brian
  20. Eoin Reddan
  21. Jonathan Sexton
  22. Paddy Wallace

Coach: Declan Kidney

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  1. “Took Southern Hemisphere rugby apart.” How do you work that out? Didn’t NZ beat France convincingly in the autumn by 39 to 12? And speaking of NZ, Ireland have never beaten them in 100 years’ of trying. They have their opportunity in June, but given the gulf between north and south, they may have to wait another 100 years.

    • Editor

      Tony, you will notice I said “placed them in the top 2” who do you suppose I put at number 1? Perhaps the team that had beaten them. The World Champs (NZ choked at the big occasion) were well dealt with by France.

      Incidentally, you’ve put quotation marks around a statement I did not say – I said “took southern hemisphere opposition apart” not “southern hemisphere rugby”. I was referring, of course, to their defeat of South Africa – your misquote is confusing for everyone.

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