• Home
  • /
  • Rugby
  • /
  • Should Ireland Really Fear This French Team?

Should Ireland Really Fear This French Team?

Donny Mahoney
By Donny Mahoney
Share this article

Allow me to be so bold to speak for all Irish rugby fans and say that France evoke a dread unlike any other Northern Hemisphere opposition. Home and away, no matter how many consecutive wins Eddie Jones and England rattle off, no matter how credibly Irish rugby analysts write off the malaise in French rugby today, the lofty notes of La Marseillaise will always trigger a fear that Les Bleus are back to claim their birthright: handily beating Ireland.

Vincent Clerc may be retired but the scars of 2007 in Croke Park and countless other less memorable drubbings are very, very real.

Guy Noves arrives in Dublin in search of a scalp. The 2016 Six Nations was a write off but improvement has been noticeable since November. There were positives and negatives in the England and Scotland results, but the French XV is settled and rested. Picamoles is arguably the player of this tournament after two fixtures, Noves has found a dangerous axis of attack in Serin and Lopez and the French pack is ginormous.


But what if the occasionally-inspired, occasionally-ragged win against Scotland is actually the most France can expect under Noves? We have seen an improved standard of performance compared to the Saint Andre era, but until France unearth a complete performance built on something other than brute force, the skeptics are right to be dubious of France.

Most Irish fans won’t relax until the job is done Saturday evening. Even if you believe the relentless critique of the French from Shane Horgan et al, Irish fans will always fear Les Bleus. That depressing patch between 2002 and 2011, when France beat Ireland 11 times in 12 (the blip coming in the Grand Slam year) lingers in the memory. The script has been flipped under Schmidt. Ireland are 3-1 versus France under Joe, and Ireland deserved something more from that Paris bludgeoning last year, when Jaco Peyper introduced himself to Irish rugby.


In this week’s Sunday Independent, Bernard Jackman called this fixture the joker in the French deck for this Six Nations: they will have nothing to lose and can play with abandon. That, we are told, is when the French are the most dangerous. For all the ability, there is still the whiff of mediocrity about them. Though the stats tell us the French lead all Six Nations teams in offloads and are second in metres made, they have scored 38 points and two tries in two games, the fewest of the five teams competing for the Six Nations.

The stat that will likely be most important on Saturday evening is the penalty count. Indiscipline continues to be the undoing of France. After two games, France have given up 25 penalties to Ireland’s 11. With the match in Dublin and being reffed by Nigel Owens, France will certainly lose if they insist on giving away dunderheaded penalties.

Ireland play their first match of 2017 in Dublin as rightful seven point favourites. This match will go a long way to proving whether the Scotland loss was a blip or a sign of something more troubling.


After the walkover in Rome, Ireland must be at their clinical best to overcome this sleeping giant in blue.

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are now subscribed!

Share this article

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com