Six Nations Round 2 – Ireland vs France

France, back in blue, went to the Aviva stadium knowing they haven’t lost there since the stadium was rebuilt.

Philippe Saint-Andre fielded a side with only one change, after the 6 Nations opener against Scotland.  Eddy Ben Arous brought in for the injured Alexandre Menini.  This in itself is unusual; PSA has used 80 players over the last three seasons.

Six Nations Round 2 – Ireland vs France

France started brightly, but errors on both sides disrupted the flow of the game, leading to a number of penalty kicks, mostly through problems at the breakdown.

Ireland had the measure of France as early as 20 minutes into the game, but error after error meant that any chances Ireland may have had to score a try went begging.

This was NOT a great display of French rugby, nor did Ireland cover themselves in glory.  The match will, unfortunately be remembered for being laboured, with a lack of imagination, lack of skill and lack of discipline.  It took 70 minutes for the French to show any flair and the resulting try did seem to make a difference to their psyche – they started playing the fast, free-flowing rugby France are renowned for.

Ireland not only contained France, but France were unable to come up with the goods when Ireland had ball in hand.  Philippe Saint-Andre has promised changes for the next round in two weeks’ time, but surely his job is on the line?

After the match, Saint-Andre said:  “We should have done better, we had them on the back foot but simply Ireland were the better team than us and we were too ill-disciplined… I certainly don’t think we are as bad as people think.”

Pascale Papé was yellow carded for a deliberate knee in Jamie Heaslip’s back and was probably lucky it wasn’t a red.  Behaviour such as this, from a seasoned player is an indication of the frustration within the team at their apparent inability to play the game they want to play.

The stats speak for themselves; France had 54% of possession and territory, but failed to capitalise.  France had 135 carries and made 354 metres.  Compare this to Ireland’s 84 carries and 210 metres made.  All of Ireland’s points came from the boot, exploiting France’s indiscipline.

If asked for my Man of the Match, it would be Sexton; his authority and skill on the pitch shone through.  Ireland though, will have questions asked about their performance.  As for France, I’m still waiting, as are rugby fans all over the world, for them to shine, something I cannot see them doing with the current set up.

Intriguing that a man who was as inventive as he was during his playing days is absolutely failing to transfer that ability to coaching.  Philippe Saint-Andre had better hope that the two week break gives him time to pull a rabbit out of the hat for the next match against Wales.  Home advantage will only make a difference if the French fans can get behind the team.  Otherwise, I predict a very Gallic riot.

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