BBC BLOGS - Bryn Palmer
« Previous | Main | Next »

Can O'Driscoll's Ireland re-light the Paris fire?

Post categories:

Bryn Palmer | 18:49 UK time, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

With all due respect to fans of Wales, Scotland, Italy and England, there is no doubt about the big game in the Six Nations this weekend.

France v Ireland shapes up as one of the, if not THE, pivotal fixture in deciding who will go on to win this year's title.

Having said last week I believe this year's champions will be whoever emerges victorious on Saturday in the Stade de France, I see no reason to change my mind on the evidence of the opening weekend.

Despite a relatively narrow nine-point winning margin in Edinburgh, the French delivered a dominant performance of impressive power and control at Murrayfield.

They also gave every impression of having their heads screwed on right, which is not always the case on their travels.

If Ireland's laborious win over Italy hardly suggested a team at the height of their powers, I wouldn't read too much into the champions' second-half performance.

They might live to regret not pushing on and scoring more tries if the title comes down to points difference on the final day, but that sort of ruthless efficiency to put a team to the sword does not come easily in the first game of a championship.

Having got that opener out of their system, there will be no lack of Irish motivation or concentration for Saturday's little set-to.

In many ways this will be a truer test of their new status as European flag-bearers than
anything they faced en route to the Grand Slam, or in the autumn against the southern hemisphere super-powers in Dublin.

Victory in Paris, where they have won precisely once in the last 38 years, would not only make them favourites to retain their Six Nations crown but prove they can win in the toughest arenas when the stakes are at their highest.

Brian O'Driscoll celebrates in 2000 after his hat-trick of tries gives Ireland their first victory in Paris since 1972.jpgIreland have not won in Paris since Brian O'Driscoll's hat-trick in 2000 inspired a first win since 1972

That said, the fixture hasn't been a pleasant experience for the visitors since 19 March 2000, the day a 21-year-old Brian O'Driscoll memorably announced himself to the wider sporting world with a stunning hat-trick of tries.

"If O'Driscoll hadn't scored on that day, his performance was still the best I had ever seen," recalled former Ireland captain Keith Wood, who led the side that day. "His presence offered hope for the rest of the team."

If that 'where there's BOD, there's hope' sentiment still rings true, even the great man has not been able to conjur up another Parisian party for the green hordes since.

Ireland have conceded 19 tries and an average of 37 points on their last four
Six Nations visits, including a 44-5 shellacking in 2002.

But Wood reckons there is a formula to beating the French. "You just need to have the confidence to stay in the game. If you are in the game at half-time, you have a very good chance," he reasons.

Easier said than done. In those four games since 2000, Ireland have trailed 28-5, 11-3, 29-3 and 19-6 at the interval. Then again, they were losing 19-7 midway through the second half in 2000 before O'Driscoll inspired one of the great Six Nations results.

So how do the Irish go about changing recent historical precedent?

Do they try to keep things tight and trust in Ronan O'Gara's right peg to kick them into the right areas, frustrating the French with a territorial game?

Or do they put more width on their game in the hope of running the hosts ragged, as they did in a crazy comeback from 43-3 down in 2006, when O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy ran riot, the Irish scored four converted tries and France were out on their feet by the end, despite winning the game 43-31?

France wing Vincent Clerc celebrates scoring one of his hat-trick of first-half tries in the 2006 fixture.jpgWing Vincent Clerc, who scored a first-half hat-trick of tries in the 2008 fixture, is back in the France starting line-up

The inclusion of O'Gara, who hasn't always had the happiest of times in Paris, ahead of the fit-again Johnny Sexton may suggest an inclination towards the first option.

But France's scrum - if the evidence of Murrayfield is anything to go by - is a potent weapon and Irish props Cian Healy and John Hayes may struggle to maintain a stable platform at the set-piece for scrum-half Tomas O'Leary and O'Gara to work off.

Expect plenty of pick-and-drives from the Ireland back row around the fringes and
O'Leary to act as a ninth forward, running any scrappy ball rather than risking the French back-row getting to O'Gara too quickly.

Ireland will also be wary of moving the ball wide too early with the French blitz defence, where Yannick Jauzion and the giant Mathieu Bastareaud will be waiting to pounce in the midfield channels.

Variety will be key for the Irish. O'Gara is likely to try a few chips over the onrushing defence for O'Driscoll and pacey wings Tommy Bowe and Keith Earls to chase.

As Wood notes: "Ireland have the ability to score and the fitness to still be going at the end. They also have the experience of winning big games and a strong leadership group which means they can deliver on that sort of stage."

Will it be enough? Two years ago the Irish found themselves 26-6 behind in Paris and launched another recovery that ended five points short.

But having tipped France for the title, I'll go for a similar winning margin to the hosts in another tight affair. Plus victories for Wales in Cardiff and England in Rome.

Anyone care to disagree?


  • Comment number 1.

    Hey Bryn

    Yeah, I reckon that the French backs (even without Rougerie), will be too much for the Irish defence. So much of their attack depends on their huge centres Bastareaud and Jauzion sucking in the defenders leaving space for the pacey wingers such as Clerc, who I was a bit suprised to see on the bench last week. Its great that they have a lot of strength in that department, with the likes of Medard and Malzieu not playing.

    I really like the style of play that Trinh-duc has, he's much more of a link between the scrum half and the the rest of the backs than say Johnny, or ROG, and it gives the French a real threat in attack. He has a great passing game, and I reckon him and Parra will be finding lots of holes in that defence

    That said, I could easily see the French game plan not going as intended, and Ireland kicking themselves in front, leading to a couple of breakaway tries, so its a tough one to call!

    Will still go with a French win, and Bastareaud to pick up a couple of tries!

  • Comment number 2.

    Unless the whole English team gets knocked down by a 1995 New Zealand poisoning!! England will win and Wales will beat Scotland!


    We still haven't seen this French team behind, they may lock up or get eratic. If Ireland hadnt won the Grand Slam last year i would agree with you completely, however BOD looked so bummed by there performance against Italy he obviously thinks and expects Ireland to play better.

    I'm 55% sure that Ireland will win but that mutant in the French backline may hurt Irelands chances.

    Ireland 17 - 15 France

  • Comment number 3.

    I really cant wait for Saturdays game. I totally agree with you Bryn that whoever wins between Ire v Fra will win the 6N's. I dont think any of the other teams have the talent to beat either of these two.

    As for saturdays game..i think Ireland will edge the win. They are the better team when they are playing well and the 2nd half last week is nothing to go by. I think we will see a complete 180 and Ireland will look as dominating as they did for the last 14 months!

    As for the other games...Eng will win by 10 points and Wales the same.

  • Comment number 4.

    france have a pretty impressive team all round this season, but i don't see what all the fuss is about with Bastareaud; sure he's big, but anyone in the french team could've scored the 2 tries he got, certainly if the tacklers were as stand-offish as the scottish wing and 10. when it came to any heavy traffic, Bastareaud's hands let him down at least twice, and is the main reason france only won by 9.

    the french pack were good, "harryordinary" i think deserves a new nickname from the english, Lionel Nallet, the ex-skipper, stole more scottish ball than an english park warden on hadrian's wall, and the prop Thomas Domingo played 80 mins, ate the scottish front row and still carried for 50 metres. but they will be up against much sterner opposition on saturday :-)

    i think if we get ferris back, we'll have the upper hand. the teams are very evenly matched, but ireland now have more experience at this level
    ( 618 caps in this team v 421 for france ) and have a much cannier coach; i must say, i don't have much confidence in livremont. the french will need to try and satisfy the parisian mob with a good start, being favourites for the title, but the irish will be out to show that last week was not a true reflection of their abilities. i think we will fustrate the french team and supporters in the first half and will hit them with our trademark third quarter blitz, and win the game by at least 5 points:-).

    if not, i hope england beat the french, as johnston deserves a break.

  • Comment number 5.

    Down to which team makes the fewer mistakes.
    France edge it in the tight and Ireland need to win quick ball from their own set pieces to stop the French pack from mangling the Irish scrum. O'Leary could possibly be the most important cog in this machine as he will be exposed to a lot of French pressure at the base of the Irish scrum.
    Even steven in the line-outs and around the fringes.
    France have an underestimated genius in Thron Duc and a dangerous match winner in Clerc, however, they did leave a lot of gaps in Edinburgh which if repeated will be meat and drink to the Irish backs and flank forwards.
    Moreover, Ireland have a 16th man in Kidney.
    Ireland also have the talismanic O'Driscoll, ROG, a back line to die for and real gritty match winning experience in forwards like Wallace, Ferris, Heislip, O'Sullivan, with Cullen showing great promise.
    Hayes, Flannery and Healy can hold their own against the French front row and its important to make sure that they don't do anything silly under pressure.
    It could end up in a knuckle with a few cards shown if the players are not careful and the match could be won or lost on not keeping a full compliment of players on the field.
    Barring accidents, Ireland for a win.

  • Comment number 6.

    As an Irishman with a French girlfriend I am really looking forward to this game!

  • Comment number 7.

    Also don't quite see the fuss about Bastareaud. He's a big guy, but I would still fancy BOD against him. However this game will be won and lost up front. Back rows are fairly evenly matched, however it is the rest of the French pack that is so strong. I cannot see the likes of Hayes and Healy being able to live with the French.

    The French game plan will be to dominate up front and much like the game they played against Scotland, they will focus on driving around the fringes to draw in the back rows and then let the likes of Jauzion et al finish off overlaps. If Ireland's pack are going backwards, I cannot see the ball getting past the 9/10 channel.

    If Ireland can gain some sort of parity in the set pieces (a big 'if') then it should be a very close game. I back France to win by between 5 and 10 points.

    In the other games, England and Wales should win relatively easily, unless silly yellow cards are given away.....

  • Comment number 8.

    I can see this going either way, but I have a suspiscion, that if France win, England have a decent shot at the Grand Slam.

    The French, whilst pretty good, don't have the best record against England in Paris, and choke under the weight of expectation, far too often.

    That said, there is a lot of pressure on them this weekend, and I could see that working for the Irish who always seem to be underdogs against the French. If they win, I think they have a stroll to the Grand Slam. If they lose, a trip to Twickers in two weeks could be a bad way to try and rebuild.

    Regardless of all of that, Wales could throw a spoiler into any of these team's ambitions!!

    You have to love the unpredictability of the 6N! It's my favourite time of the year!

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    When the fixtures for this years championship were published, this was always going to be the stand out fixture for most rugby followers, regardless of nationality. It's a shame that the organisers didn't leave this for 'Super Saturday' on the last weekend, like the Wales v Ireland fixture last year.

    Reading Bryn's blod makes me a little anxious as an Irishman, remembering the demons of displays in Paris. however, I agree with edgroves that Hayes and Healey will not be able to compete with their Frenc counterparts. If Lievremont decides that the way to play the match is through the forwards, I think this will be to their detrement as the Irish back row are outstanding at the moment and will clean up on the ground.

    I shall be watching nervously but (with optimism) predict Ireland by a few points.

  • Comment number 11.

    I was fairly confident of a french victory earlier in the week , but as the game has got closer I am starting sit on the fence....I believe that if the French scrum etc gets on top of the irish it will create space outside for the french backs to exploit...also if Irelands game plan is to play percentages and use O'Garas boot for position and penalties they will come un stuck...however think BOD has the advantage of the big French centre (cannot spell his name) and feel the Irish will be more up to the blitz defence of the french than scotland...very tight game but think the french will prevail by about 3 to 5 points...other games, England to win, think wales will win by depends on how they react to loss to england...never underestimate scotlands fighting spirit...will send wife and kids to mother in laws and settle down for a great rugby feast..cannot wait

  • Comment number 12.

    Ireland definitely have the capability to beat France on Saturday. We have an incredible back line that are well able to score tries provided they get the ball. Our scrum looked good against Italy and with Ferris back we should be even better. Th forwards saw a lot of the ball against Italy and I thought TOL distribution and decision making was very poor at times. Last week we only produced a display that was good enough to beat Italy, if we do the same or anything remotely similar against the French they will walk all over us. I too will be watching nervously on Saturday, as this is a huge and probably our most difficult game.

    My prediction: It will be close, but I fancy France will just shade it.

    It's worthwhile to point out though that I recently predicted I'd just done enough to pass an exam. I failed. Badly. Like really badly.

  • Comment number 13.

    I really don't like Paddy Wallace, but it's a mistake to play D'Arcy, as we need someone at inside centre who can kick; play for territory and frustrating France is the best chance.

    In the end, the scrum will probably be too big a disadvantage to overcome. Hayes is dreadful, and Healy isn't great: we'll be lucky to get one through successfully against this French pack.

  • Comment number 14.

    Get ready for all the 'revenge Henry' headlines.

  • Comment number 15.

    I believe it will be a testy nervous match but the "presence" of Thierry Henry will keep the men in green focused and that they'll grind out a close victory. Wales to win the more enjoyable, to watch, match and England to win comfortably

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Bryn

    We CAN beat the French but only one way. Thats by out-Frenching them. In the words of the Meerkat 'Simples!'

    If we play a game that kicks posession away to the French we will be beaten - no question. However if we believe that we have have the talent to throw it around and keep it live we have a chance. I firmly believe that we have enough mobility and nouse to be able to do that - the question is do Ireland believe that !!?

    If ROG plays his traditional game and kicks away posession we WILL lose of that I would put my house and contents. Our only chance is to play confident southern hemisphere / French style rugby and take it to them.

    Heres hoping

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm not sure even as reigning champions Ireland will get a result in Paris, for the first time in a long time the French seem to click and also they have had a huge amount of backing by the French public whch was very evident in the way their supporters out sang the Scottish last weekend, maybe Stade-De-France is finally going to become an initimidating arena just like Twickenham and the Milennium Stadium. Ireland will need to be sharper than ever this weekend to pull off a victory

  • Comment number 18.

    France has to be favourite, but if Ireland builds up a head of steam, France is there for the taking. I think Ferris' fitness is key.

    Wales will be hurting and will take it out on Scotland, I expect them to win big and Jones to make up for last week with a huge display.

    Regarding England, I think it is not as good as a win over Wales suggests, nor is Italy as bad (especially at home) as people think. This one will be close and ugly, with England the likely if not certain victors.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think, given the nature of the six nations, that calling any match a title decider before the final game day is a little presumptious. Then again upon the final whistle at Twickenham last weekend Brian Moore exclaimed, 'The Grand Slam is on!' - settle down Brian. So lets, like Moorey, get a little ahead of ourselves.
    Although everything in my heart tells me, 'see what never know on the day...we beat the World Champions for God's sake', I think France will edge it and complete a Grand Slam. The professional ferocity of the French display at Murrayfield panged of a new France, a France that perhaps will turn up to every game, and what a dangerous thing that would be. That said, I don't believe that this priase for Bastareaud is entirely justified. In fact the All Blacks silenced this new 'star' so completely in November, I'm not even sure he played.
    There are also positives to take from the game against Scotland from an Irish perspective. There were a lot of gaps in the French defense and a lot of space in behind. I also don't believe the Irish scrum is as bad as people make out. If the Irish forwards can keep up with those of 'Les Bleus' and cause a little chaos at the breakdown, I'm looking at you Healy and O'Connell, then the boot of O'Gara and the potential in our back line maybe enough to edge it.
    Plus you can never account for the BOD factor. A man doesn't make a team but so many times he has been the difference.

  • Comment number 20.

    felixtzu I agree with your point about Wallace and D'Arcy. I've never really rated Wallace in the Ireland set up as I don't think his defense is good enough. Having said this though I thought he played quite well when he came on on Saturday. You also raise an interesting issue with our 12 being able to kick. This coupled with what Bryn says about the French blitz defense could lead to an opening and useful tactic for the Irish. It strikes me that a good technique would be for one of O'Gara's kicks over the top, whilst the defense is rushing up. I can't see D'Arcy or BOD breaking through Bastareaud too often. They will target O'Gara though and I can see him crumbling under pressure just like England last year. Hence why we need quicker ball Mr O'Leary!

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree with interlooper, whats all this rave about Bastareaud? OK he is big and scored a coyple of relatively easy tries but his ball handling skills were very poor. How many times did he turn posetion over due to a fumble???

    I feel that the game will be won in the forwards and Ireland can match the French in that department. I also feel that if Sexton is fit then he should start ahead of ROG. It will be a very close match but i see Ireland winning by 3 or 5 points.

  • Comment number 22.

    Bastareaud is the main weakness in the French backline and the greens will try and expose his channel as he is not accomplished at the sprint out defence. Expect the Ireland backs to attack Bastareaud's channel off first phase when the opportunity presents itself.

    Of course, thats assuming we get first phase ball in the first place. We will fight hard for lineout ball and we will do well to maintain parity in the scrum. However Ireland thrive on small amounts of possession and a few quality set pieces in good areas of the pitch will suffice.

    As for game strategy, I note Kidney's comments today about giving the players the freedom to make the calls on the pitch as they arise. That suggests a more daring attacking policy, running the ball for deep inside our half and less kicking. If this is the case then it will be a swashbuckling try-fest with the intention of simply wearing out the French, who will probably establish an early lead but eventually lose to Irelands better conditioning. It could end up 40 points all.

    However don't be surprised if this is a smokescreen. Kidney is a shrewd but conversative coach. He would have seen how Scotland tried and failed to attack the French from deep and knows that Ireland cannot afford turnovers deep in the Irish half. The French will gobble up turnovers faster than a plate of garlic snails and like 02, 04, 06, and 08 it will be game over.

    No, expect a tight kicking game for 60 odd minutes with either long kicks deep into the French half or Garryowens to retrieve possession (and remember, the kick is only as good as the chase, just watch how poor Scotland were last week at chasing kicks and how it cost them a try), emphasis all the time on playing in the French half. Frustrate the French team, and more importantly, the French crowd till they are sufficiently tired. With 25/30 minutes to go, unleash our backs with more space and time to do their magic and find holes in the French defence.

    Either way, assuming no silly Alun Wyn Jones misdemeanours and major interceptions aside, it should be close though I would prefer if we give it a go at the start however unlikely that is.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ felixtzu and WillyGilly- surely pitting tiny Paddy Wallace against the gargantuan centre partnership of Jauzion and Bastareaud would not be a good idea, I suspect D'Arcy has been chosen primarily because defensively he is more solid than Wallace.

    Personally, I agree with the comments saying that kicking away possession would only be playing into France's hands (Vincent Clerc in particular). Ireland's three quarter backs are much better then France's, with the exception of Jauzion, so why not pass it out wide and attack Bastareaud and Clerc, who both look a bit dodgy in defense?

    I think if Ireland can play at their best, as the more experienced team and the one with more quality where it matters, they should win, but if they rely too much on O'Gara's kicking, I can't see them overcoming this France side.

  • Comment number 24.

    The reason why we need a kicking inside centre (even a relatively weak one), and we need to play a kicking game, is to keep the French frustrated and hope for a lot more lineouts than scrums. Wallace is weak defensively, but improved of late, and we know they'll target the 10/12 channel either way.

    I would agree with the call for a running game, except that it will lead to more break-downs with more mistakes and scrums - and I can't see anything other annihilation for our front row. Most of the time the decision is made for you anyway; in test rugby these days, you can't just decide it's going to be a running game. Also a kicking battle would be hard against Elissade and Beauxise, or even Skrela, but Trinc-duc and co aren't too worrying.

  • Comment number 25.

    A lot will depend on the ref (prize for silly statement of the day!) If he lets "Harry" get away with gently ambling back across the scrum half's pass line or just being one yard ahead of the ball all the time as Alain Rolland did last week then the Irish are stuffed. Rolland is perhaps the best ref in the northern hemisphere at the moment but was just a little behid on that one. Please by the way can we keep most of the matches for northern hemisphere refs?
    All the raving about Bastaraud has got to the media here as well. He was voted "Man of the Match" which Fabien Galthie (France TV's consultant) thought was a total disgrace! His comments about England were "Good enough to win but must do better"

  • Comment number 26.

    The French crowd can be a fickle bunch so if Ireland can gather some momentum in the first 20 minutes and maybe even gather up a lead, it will make things much more difficult for the French team. With their supporters hassling them they tend to lose confidence and start making mistakes.

    Should be a good game either way though.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    Shouldn't a blog offer some insight... or at the very least an opinion???
    This doesn't do either

  • Comment number 29.

    A lot is going to depend on the scrum. A Scottish rugby friend of mine reckoned that France's scrum dominance at Murrayfield was more due to Scottish incompetence than the French front row being particularly good. If Hayes and Healy can hold their own, then Ireland have the ability in their back row and backs division to edge a narrow win.

    It will also be fascinating to see the tactics. There's been a lot of talk that France will target O'Gara but (as others have alluded to) Ireland might also target Bastareaud's defence and hopefully BOD can do some damage in that channel.

  • Comment number 30.

    If Ireland beat France in Paris, England will win the 6 nations. If France win on Saturday, they will win the 6 nations.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm predicting a big game for Ferris. A very big game.
    I'd like to see a lot more from Darcy than we did against the Italians and Kearney's kicking needs to be 15 yrds longer than it was against the Italians (ie his usual trusty long boot. What happened last week?)
    Incidentally, I'm a little concerned that Kearney's let the hype go to his head.

  • Comment number 32.

    Basteraud was competely anonymous when Ulster hammered Stade Francais in Belfast. Until proven otherwise, I'd suggest more than a hint of flat track bully.

    Ireland should win as long as they can be competitive in the tight and O'Gara produces a mediocre performance rather than an out-and-out shocker (these are his only two settings against decent international opposition).

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Bryn,

    Very insightful article but must say (like myself) you are totally sitting on the fence for a definitive prediction on the result. I agree that the scrum poses huge questions for the Irish. John Hayes has been a huge servant to Ireland and owes the team nothing, but Ireland more then ever need their 20 stone prop to produce another age defying performance.
    The one thing to consider that the man opposing him in the scrum, Domingo in the scrum is 5ft 8 and 18 stone, Hayes has the weight to gain parity and Cian Healy has a huge task in keeping the huge figure of Nicholas Mas under wraps. If Ireland can be even "relatively" secure in the scrum then they have a chance.
    A worry for the French is that against Scotland they defended very flat and there was obvious gapos in their defence but the inept Scots were unable to capitalise, something I feel the Irish backs will take advantage of, if given the chance.
    I feel that contrary to both teams ability to play running rugby, it will be a game decided by defensive and indeed attacking kicking. O'Gara has become rejuvenated with Sexton posing questions to his command over the 10 jersey. O'Gara's ability to vary his kicks and kick behind the rush French defence, I expect that Bowe, Earls and co to be not only faster then the snail like Scottish backs, but be able to compete for the breaking ball and get behind the French line.
    The sight of Clerc back on the wing strikes fear into every Irishman and 2007, and his hat-trick in 08 reminds us of what he has done to us before.
    Finally (thank God I hear you say) the comments of Morgan Parra of Ireland being "cheats" are inflammatory to say the least and its because of this stupidity (it has to come in when the team have their team-talk!) that I back Ireland to win and win by seven, and Ferris is back....

  • Comment number 34.

    This match should be good.

    I am an England Fan, and I am going to give an unbiased view on what I predict in the match.

    Firstly, Ireland failed to perform at Croke Park last season, and France did well in Murrayfield. So on very recent form, France is better.

    But if Ireland do an amazing performance, they could snaffel it.

    But I predict that Ireland will do well, and lead for long periods of the game, but France will snatch the match in the last 10 minutes (like they seemingly always do against Ireland).

    My Prediction:
    France: 25 - 21 :Ireland

    Good luck to England in Rome (Prediction 28-14 to England)

  • Comment number 35.

    I am completely disgusted at the rubbish come out of the French team this week. It really says something about their confidence and ability when they need to resort to cheap lies to try and overcome their opposition. If they're really as good as they think they are, they would be able to do all the talking in 80 minutes of rugby on Saturday. Totally lost any respect I had for them.

  • Comment number 36.

    I am no expert on Rugby given the 6 nations and the world cup is the only Rugby I take in. I have watched the 6 nations for years...My understanding has evolved along with the Irish team.
    I would say this. Ireland are a better team than 2 years ago in Paris. They are more confident, have better players, more intelligent, are more flexible as a team. The fact the French are accusing them of cheating is showing us the French are probably for the first time, scared. I live in France, and I know the mentality. If they are put under the kosh, they wilt. If they are on top they flourish. So I believe if Ireland can pull ahead a couple (2 scores) and keep that distance ,then it's an Irish Win. If the French pull ahead, the Irish we know can come back, but this time they will make up the difference. The only way the French will tomorrow, is if they make many less mistakes, have no nerves, and Ireland deliver the type of shoddy first half Parisien performance they are famous for... I can't see that happening. I think this will be close and I am hoping in the end it will comfortable.

  • Comment number 37.

    Just to add, the management team now in the Irish setup I don't see them allowing Ireland to fall behind like in previous ecounters, they can change it around if it starts to happen. I am confident. Ireland to win and me to have a commplete field day at work on Monday... life is not worth living. Even the blokes who don't know what a rugby looks like will be slagging me off if the Irish loose, you should have seen it for the's still going on...

  • Comment number 38.

    Listen here "collie21" I demand that you post a comment expressing either:
    -Your remorse for your previous comment
    -Your glowing admiration for me

  • Comment number 39.

    On behalf of my father, Howard Ballsy I have decided to make everyone on this blog praise me. Be vigilant because should you refuse you will feel the full force of revenge

  • Comment number 40.

    Howard Ballsy Junior ??


    Either Ballsy Senior or Junior

    Attempts Should be ignored!!!!!!!!




  • Comment number 41.

    Completely outclassed by the French in every way. I hope France play like this against England. As an England fan I would love to see them tested against this kind of rugby. Beating the French at this level might just - although unlikely - silence all those forever slating an English performance.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.