Joe Schmidt’s side are looking to claim their first win of the tournament in Paris today.
Ah, you can’t beat it.
Ireland in Paris, confidence is back after a decent run-out last week.
Get your predictions in.
The42‘s Murray Kinsella is over in Paris this weekend. And we’ll be keeping you up to speed on the liveblog too. Kick-off is at 2.25.
It’s all about Paul O’Connell at the moment. The big man is in Paris this weekend and is no doubt sick of retirement questions.
A bit of pre-match reading for you:
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How are the nerves???
I’m going with an Ireland win by five. 23-18.
I’m a bit nervous about the French chucking it about but that’s just from so many years of disappointment. And Ireland’s skill levels aren’t behind those of France like they used to be.
I’ll never forget 2000 and what that meant to my elders. The day Brian O’Driscoll truly announced himself on the world stage.
Here’s a reminder of today’s teams:
Maxime Medard; Teddy Thomas, Maxime Mermoz, Jonathan Danty, Virimi Vakatawa; Jules Plisson, Sebastien Bezy; Damien Chouly, Yacouba Camara, Wenceslas Lauret; Yoann Maestri, Alexandre Flanquart; Uini Atonio, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: Camille Chat, Rabah Slimani, Eddy Ben Arous, Paul Jedrasiak, Loann Goujon, Maxime Machenaud, Jean-Marc Doussain, Hugo Bonneval
Coach: Guy Noves (FRA)
Rob Kearney; Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, CJ Stander; Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy; Nathan White, Rory Best (capt), Jack McGrath
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, James Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Tommy O’Donnell, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden
Coach: Joe Schmidt (NZL)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (RSA)
It’s weird feeling confident ahead of an Ireland game in Paris.
Ireland are even money today, that hasn’t been the case for most of my lifetime.
You’d imagine game-plan is a huge thing for Joe Schmidt today. The last thing Ireland want to do is get sucked into a sevens-type scenario with loose structures and off-the-cuff play rewarded.
That’s happened in France before but Schmidt is far too smart to let that happen, you’d think.
The teams are on the field. Anthems on the way.
I caught up with former Ireland captain Dion O’Cunneagain this week and he opened up on CJ Stander, captaining Ireland and the love for Irish rugby in his household.
For those who don’t remember him, he was an incredible back-rower with frightening pace. And these days he’s working in Cape Town as a GP. A gentleman to boot.
Donal Lenihan wants Ireland to get “down and dirty” while Ronan O’Gara thinks Seán O’Brien can “be the new O’Connell”.
RTÉ’s coverage hasn’t been bland this year, that’s for sure.
We’re under way in France.
La Marseillaise, what a marvellous song.
Early penalty for Ireland. Defence looking solid.
Good attacking lineout but Best’s throw doesn’t go to hand. That’s a bad start to the set-piece.
Great break from Henshaw has Ireland just five metres from the French line. But Ireland struggle to make the final few metres so Sexton hangs up a cross-field kick for Rob Kearney. But Vakatawa takes a great mark.
Ireland enjoying some good territory but a Henshaw knock-on gives the home side a reprieve.
Super start to this, being played at a great tempo. Atmosphere looks a bit dead though.
Ireland’s scrum has been excellent so far. That is a huge positive, especially after last week’s issues. Probably the main cause for concern from Ireland’s opener against Wales.
Ireland have been dominant but not ahead on the scoreboard, something that proved costly against Wales last weekend.
Ireland have been the much better side but are still making errors that will be paining Schmidt.
Mike McCarthy guilty of a very basic handling error and simple turnover also conceded as Ireland were starting attacking plays.
Ireland have a penalty, Sexton to kick from the 10m line.
France 0 Ireland 3 (Sexton pen ’16)
This has been a good start from Ireland. They look comfortable, France haven’t really troubled them yet.
Great kick from Sexton, who seems to have a constant pained look on his face these days.
But he has jarred his knee on his last carry and is replaced by Tommy O’Donnell. Big loss for Ireland, although O’Donnell was excellent last week to be fair.
Seán O’Brien is coming into this a bit more. A couple of big carries from the Carlow man.
Ireland recycling the ball very well but making too many mistakes. Stander, this time, is guilty of a knock-on as Ireland threaten the French line.
They go back for an attacking scrum though. But the set-piece lets them down this time as Nathan White is penalised for an infringement.
This is getting a bit frustrating.
France 0 Ireland 6 (Sexton pen ’29)
Dave Kearney is off injured now too, looks like a shoulder problem. Fergus McFadden on in his place.
Robbie Henshaw the standout player so far for my money.
Ireland win a penalty on the 22, on the left-hand side. Sexton to kick.
France 3 Ireland 6 (Plisson pen ’32)
France get a reward for their only meaningful spell in Irish territory. Ireland should be further ahead — that’s a concern as French confidence builds.
France 3 Ireland 9 (Sexton pen ’38)
Ireland are struggling with injuries. Murray seems to be struggling with a head injury, McCarthy is now off with a facial injury. Donnacha Ryan on as a blood sub.
Hard to know what to make of that. Ireland have been dominant but haven’t been clinical enough. They seem to have dropped down a level of intensity and accuracy from last week.
France have offered little so far, even with ball in hand.
Ireland’s defence has looked very solid again this week. The scrum has been operating better too. If Schmidt’s side continue in this form they should see this one out.
HT: France 3 Ireland 9
Ronan O’Gara summed it up pefecttly, the next score is crucial.
A try for Ireland and they are nearly out the gate. This French team are there for the taking.
Too many turnovers conceded (six)and two lineouts lost in that first period. That will be paining Schmidt.
Don’t even mention the C word Brian.
Big half of rugby coming up. Plenty of reasons for confidence after the opening 40. Just need to find that extra gear.
France getting frustrated and have been a bit dirty today.
Peyper has let a lot go, which could be a big talking point if this stays close.
Sexton gets us back under way.
Mike McCarthy back on.
France have looked haphazard in attack to say the least. They don’t seem to have anyone running their attack game at all. Bizarre.
Ireland are still being undone by basic handling errors. It’s a wet day but the skills haven’t been good enough.
This game has continued in the same vein. Not been a great watch at all. Scrappy and riddled with errors. But it’s all about getting the win.
Ireland pull out their best attacking move of the day but Rob Kearney’s offload is intercepted.
France respond in kind through Vakatawa but a forward pass stops their progress, thankfully.
Scrum to come on halfway.
Murray and Sexton are controlling this with the boot now. A couple of nice kicks from the halfbacks pin France in their 22.
A Garryowen from Sexton is chased excellently by Kearney and Henshaw before the later touches down. But the Connacht man knocked it on and we go back for a scrum deep in France territory.
But France are awarded a penalty and they get a Plisson kick gets them back to halfway.
Tommy O’Donnell has been very impressive again this week. Mike McCarthy and Jack McGrath are also standing out in defence.
Ireland look they are just trying to kill this game now. And France don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. Just over 20 minutes to go.
France are having their best spell of the game. And they are eventually rewarded with a penalty.
Mike McCarthy is in trouble after a nasty head clash with McGrath. He won’t be able to continue, Ryan to come back on.
Hopefully he’s OK, neck brace is on but he seems alert.
One of his better games for Ireland up to that point. Got through a mountain of work.
France go for the corner and set up a lineout maul.
Ireland’s defence is staying strong. It’s been the standout element of this performance from Schmidt’s side. Very solid.
Gone to the TMO as France looked to have got over. Hard to see if it was grounded.
Jaco Peyper was on hands and knees and couldn’t see if it was a try. Hard to see the TMO having a better view.
Held-up the call. 5m scrum to come.
This scrum is going to be HUGE.
One infringement already from Ireland. Another scrum to come.
Sexton down now with a neck problem, just like last week.
Madigan to come on for his Leinster colleague.
France turning the screw now on the scrum. They’re awarded another penalty. Penalty try surely not far away now.
Kudos to Ryle Nugent for his “Careful Now” Father Ted reference though.
France awarded another penalty. This is looking grim. Need a big scrum here boys.
The ball pops out quickly but it catches Ireland off guard and the France fullback touches down. Plisson adds the extras.
Madigan’s re-start goes out on the full. Oh dear.
France 10 Ireland 9 (Medard try ’70)
Ireland win a lineout in their own 22 after a cover tackle from Kearney and Payne. Six minutes to go.
France are controlling the ball well. This is horribly frustrating stuff.
France turn it over. This one will sting.
Ireland awarded a scrum for a knock-on. Looked a penalty to me for a deliberate knock-on though.
Ireland, somehow, lost that one.
They were the much better side for the first hour but didn’t convert their opportunities. The French scrum eventually started to dominate and the pressure eventually told.
That’s a hard loss to stomach against a fairly poor French side.
Injuries to O’Brien, Sexton and McCarthy also make it a completely miserable day really.
Thanks for joining us for the live blog, as always.
Match report and reaction to follow.
FT: France 10 Ireland 9