Guinness Six Nations 2023 Rugby Coverage

Magnificent Ireland Down France In Guinness Six Nations Classic

Magnificent Ireland Down France In Guinness Six Nations Classic

Ireland defeats France 32 - 19 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in their 2023 Guinness Six Nations match-up. Ireland maintain their world number one ranking.

Feb 11, 2023 by Philip Bendon
Magnificent Ireland Down France In Guinness Six Nations Classic

Ireland extended their impressive home record to thirteen consecutive victories with a mesmerising 32 – 19 win over reigning Grand Slam champions France.

Andy Farrell’s side brought an energy unlike any the French had faced in their 14-game unbeaten run. 

With the victory Ireland maintain their position atop the World Rankings as they distance themselves from Les Bleus who will remain in second place. 

Perhaps more importantly than the ranking, the victory means Ireland has beaten every tier-one nation under Farrell since he took over post the 2019 World Cup. 

In a thrilling end-to-end contest, Ireland outscored their visitors four tries to one in a dominant display of fast, physical and clinical rugby.

Having lost the past three encounters between the two, the win will be an important psychological boost for the Irish heading into the World Cup. 

Perhaps most pleasing for Farrell and his coaching staff was that despite the absence of four key starters in Tadhg Furlong, Dan Sheehan, Jamison Gibson-Park and Robbie Henshaw his side did not miss a beat. 

Outside of the Damian Penaud try where the visitors broke from deep in their own half, Ireland did not appear pressured. 

In attack, Ireland’s four tries were built on the back of breath-taking efficiency combined with individual brilliance. 

Leading the charge was number eight Caelen Doris who further pushed his case for a World Player Of The Year award come the end of the season.

Doris’s head-to-head with Gregory Aldritt was billed as a battle of two of the best eighth men in the game. In truth, there was only one winner as Aldritt had an unusually quiet game by his lofty standards.

Keeping the visitors in touch was the typically sublime Antoine Dupont who at times appeared unplayable as he continually broke through the Irish defence only to be short of support runners. 

Pouncing on every opportunity for points, fullback Tomas Ramos was metronomic from the kicking tee. 

Yet penalties were never going to be enough for the French to pull off the victory as Ireland proved to have an extra gear to go to when necessary. 

Halfbacks Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton were in a dangerous mood as both made a number of telling breaks that had the French defence at sixes and sevens. 

Across the backline, fullback Hugo Keenan was once again flawless with his defensive positioning, tactical kicking and kick returns. 

Keenan’s back-three partners James Lowe and Mack Hansen each had their moments with Lowe’s try a reminder that he is one of the best finishers in the game. 

In the centres, Stuart McCloskey continued his growth on the international stage as he put in a performance that reminded Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki that he will not give up the shirt without a fight. 

Outside of McCloskey, Garry Ringrose continued his run as arguably the best outside centre in the game. 

Defensively Ringrose has a knack unlike any since the great Brian O’Driscoll of shooting out of the line and shutting down attacks with a huge hit. Displaying his full array of skills, Ringrose set up Lowe beautifully for his try before scoring the all-important bonus point try. 

Interestingly Ireland may have provided a blueprint on how to pick off the heralded French defence. Using a number of clever kicks, the normally high-sitting French wingers were regularly found to be in ‘no-mans land.’ 

This tactic forced the French to have gaps on the edge with the fear of kicks going in behind them. When they then came forward to defend in the line, the Irish kickers would find the space behind, thus the Shaun Edwards rush defence never quite settled in. 

In terms of the forward exchanges, France would’ve expected to hold an advantage given Ireland were missing two of their key starters. Yet the Irish scrum more than held its own in an impressive demonstration of the depth of Farrell’s squad. 

Now out of the running for a Grand Slam, it will be interesting to see how head coach Fabien Galthie approaches the rest of the Championship. 

A key question that he will hope to answer throughout the remainder of the championship will be should Mathieu Jalibert start ahead of Romain Ntamack in the flyhalf berth. 

For the second week in a row, Ntamack was quiet and struggled to manage the in-your-face Irish defence. Certainly, Ntamack remains a classy player when given time, yet there have been a number of occasions where has struggled when not given ideal front foot ball. 

For Ireland, they will fancy their chances at winning a fourth-ever Grand Slam with trips to Rome and Edinburgh being followed by a home clash with England. 

Should they manage to go undefeated there is no doubt they will enter the World Cup as the heavy favourites despite their chequered history with the global tournament.

Written by Philip Bendon