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02 Feb 2018 by TSZ

2018 Six Nations Championship – France vs Ireland Preview

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AT A GLANCE

When? Saturday 3rd February, 16:45

Where? Stade de France

What channel is it on? BBC, FR2, TV3, DMAX, NBC

Where can I stream the match? BBC iPlayer

Are tickets still available? https://billetterie.ffr.fr/fr/meeting/157/france-irlande-2018/stade-de-france-st-denis/03-02-2018/17h30

THE LOWDOWN

FRANCE

Head Coach: Jacques Brunel

Squad: Geoffrey Palis (Castres Olympique); Teddy Thomas (Racing 92), Remi Lamerat (Clemont Auvergne), Henry Chavancy (Racing 92), Virimi Vakatawa (Racing 92); Matthieu Jalibert (Bordeaux Bègles), Maxime Machenaud (Racing 92); Jefferson Poirot (Bordeaux Bègles), Guilhem Guirado (capt) (Toulon), Rabah Slimani (Clemont Auvergne), Arthur Iturria (Clemont Auvergne), Sebastien Vahaamahina (Clemont Auvergne), Wenceslas Lauret (Racing 92), Yacouba Camara (Montpellier), Kevin Gourdon (La Rochelle)

Replacements: Adrien Pelissie (Bordeaux Bègles), Dany Priso (La Rochelle), Cedate Gomes Sa (Racing 92), Paul Gabrillagues (Stade Français), Marco Tauleigne (Bordeaux Bègles), Antoine Dupont (Toulouse), Anthony Belleau (Toulon), Benjamin Fall (Montpellier)

  • This Six Nations campaign signals something of a new era for the French with a new coach and a relatively young set of players as they look to improve upon their poor 2017 in which they only won 3 of their 11 internationals.
  • Head coach Jacques Brunel has teenage fly-half Matthieu Jalibert as well as 21-year-old fly-half Anthony Belleau available and both may see playing time far quicker than expected due to injuries within the squad.
  • Injuries to the likes of Wesley Fofana, Brice Dulin, Alivereti Raka, Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez will however vastly reduce the creativity in their line-up so that along with a lack of experience in the ranks could see them struggle this year and in this match.

IRELAND

Head Coach: Joe Schmidt

Squad: Rob Kearney (Leinster); Keith Earls (Munster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Bundee Aki (Connacht), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster); Johnny Sexton (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster); Iain Henderson (Ulster), James Ryan (Leinster); Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster).

Replacements: Sean Cronin (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), John Ryan (Munster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Dan Leavy (Leinster), Luke McGrath (Leinster), Joey Carbery (Leinster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster)

  • After winning the Six Nations in 2014 and 2015, Ireland have been forced to take a back seat to the English but their victory in the final game last year to halt England’s winning record will give them hope that they can compete and challenge for honours this season.
  • Their form in the Autumn internationals was impressive with wins over South Africa, Argentina and Fiji so there is every reason to be confident off the back of a seven-match winning run of results.
  • They are arguably the only team that can boast the same strength in depth and quality as England, and though British and Irish Lions flanker Sean O'Brien is a major loss to the squad, and Garry Ringrose, Jared Payne and Rhys Ruddock are also out, Schmidt has plenty of talent at his disposal.

THE KEY STATS

  • France have won eight of their last 11 home matches in the Six Nations.
  • There has been an average of three tries scored per game during France’s last 10 Six Nations matches.
  • There has been an average of 37.9 points scored per game during France’s last 10 home Six Nations matches.
  • There has been an average of 45 points scored per game during France’s last eight home Six Nations matches against Ireland.
  • There has been an average of five tries scored per game during France’s previous nine home Six Nations matches against Ireland.
  • France have lost only one of their last eight home matches against Ireland in the Six Nations.
  • France have scored the first try of the match in six of their last eight home matches against Ireland in the Six Nations.
  • Ireland have lost four of their last five away matches in the Six Nations.
  • Ireland have been winning at HT in 11 of their last 15 matches in the Six Nations.
  • Ireland have scored the last try of the match in five of their last seven Six Nations matches.
  • There has been an average of 4.1 tries per game scored during Ireland’s last nine away matches in the Six Nations.
  • Ireland have failed to score a point during the second half in two of their last three away matches against France in the Six Nations.
  • There has not been a try scored within the final ten minutes during any of Ireland’s last five away matches against France in the Six Nations.

THE PREDICTION

A huge clash this opening weekend in Paris where a young but talented French side take on the Irish. Injuries may hamper the French however and with a lack of experience and creativity, they may struggle to match the Irish over 80 minutes. Ireland’s form has been impressive over the last 12 months and they know they cannot afford any slip-ups prior to the England game. Everything points towards an away victory here.

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