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As it happened: France v Ireland, Six Nations

Join us for live minute-by-minute updates as the 2024 Six Nations kicks off with a potential championship decider in Marseille.

They say you can’t win a championship in the first game, but you can probably lose it — and if France and Ireland prove themselves to the two best teams in this year’s Six Nations as expected, tonight’s result will likely go a long way towards deciding this year’s title.

World Cup hangover, be damned — how’s that for high stakes on opening night?

Ciarán Kennedy reports live for The 42 from the Stade Vélodrome this evening, while we’ll have live minute-by-minute updates right here to make sure that you won’t miss a moment of the action.

Kick-off is at 8pm.

TEAM NEWS: First up, here’s a quick reminder of how the hosts line out tonight — no Antoine Dupont, and no Romain Ntamack, but this is still a team stocked to the brim with world-class talent.


  • 15. Thomas Ramos
  • 14. Damian Penaud
  • 13. Gael Fickou
  • 12. Jonathan Danty
  • 11. Yoram Moefana
  • 10. Matthieu Jalibert
  • 9. Maxime Lucu
  • 1. Cyril Baille 
  • 2. Peato Mauvaka
  • 3. Uini Atonio 
  • 4. Paul Gabrillagues
  • 5. Paul Willemse
  • 6. Francois Cros 
  • 7. Charles Ollivon
  • 8. Gregory Alldritt (captain) 


  • 16. Julien Marchand
  • 17. Reda Wardi
  • 18. Dorian Aldegheri
  • 19. Cameron Woki
  • 20. Posolo Tuilagi
  • 21. Paul Boudehent
  • 22. Nolann Le Garrec
  • 23. Louis Bielle-Biarrey

TEAM NEWS: And here’s Andy Farrell’s Ireland 23 as they bid to defend the Six Nations title for the first time since 2015, and — whisper it, because you can be sure nobody in the camp is even mentioning it — back-to-back Grand Slams for the first time in the country’s history. 


  • 15. Hugo Keenan
  • 14. Calvin Nash
  • 13. Robbie Henshaw
  • 12. Bundee Aki
  • 11. James Lowe
  • 10. Jack Crowley
  • 9. Jamison Gibson-Park
  • 1. Andrew Porter
  • 2. Dan Sheehan
  • 3. Tadhg Furlong
  • 4. Joe McCarthy
  • 5. Tadhg Beirne
  • 6. Peter O’Mahony (capt)
  • 7. Josh van der Flier
  • 8. Caelan Doris


  • 16. Ronan Kelleher
  • 17. Cian Healy
  • 18. Finlay Bealham
  • 19. James Ryan
  • 20. Ryan Baird
  • 21. Jack Conan
  • 22. Conor Murray
  • 23. Ciarán Frawley

It’s a huge night for Joe McCarthy and Calvin Nash, who make their Six Nations debuts — but arguably an even bigger night (if that’s even possible) for 24-year-old Jack Crowley who attempts to step into the biggest boots in Irish rugby as the post-Johnny Sexton era begins.

While you’re counting down these last 20 minutes before kick-off, here’s a bit of pre-match reading:

Tonight’s match-up in Marseille is one of the most fascinating Six Nations fixtures an Irish team has faced in recent memory.

This squad has been a settled, consistent group for the last two years but now there’s fresh questions about the future. Tonight we’ll see just how ready Crowley is to start making Sexton’s shirt his own; we’ll get a proper appreciation of McCarthy’s ability to be a disrupter against a serious international pack; we’ll see if Ireland’s back three depth has the ability to absorb an injury to a key player in the form of Mack Hansen and we’ll see Andy Farrell turn to a 6:2 bench split for the first time.

There’s a lot of moving parts for a team that need to hit the ground running against their hurting hosts.

Read Ciarán Kennedy’s match preview here (€) >

The pre-match markets give France a four-point advantage this evening, but if Ireland can nail down their lineout and hold their own at scrum time — the two key areas that scuppered them against the All Blacks — you’d have to give them a puncher’s chance of causing an upset in Marseille.

Either way, the next 80 minutes will tell us a lot about where both teams are… and what they can reasonably expect over the next seven weeks.

Amid all the chatter about big nights for those making their first Six Nations starts, let’s not forget a big night for a man who has walked the walk and talked the talk many times before: Peter O’Mahony leads his side into battle for the first time as the new Ireland captain.

karl-dickson-with-peter-omahony-and-gregory-alldritt-at-the-coin-toss Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

It is LOUD in the Stade Vélodrome, which is a 67,000 sell-out tonight. There’s somewhere in the region of 7-10,000 Irish fans among that number, and you can bet they’ll be doing their level best their make their voices heard among the noise.

The teams are lining up in the tunnel. Here we go.

First up, it’s Ireland’s Call — et maintenant, La Marseillaise.

KICK OFF: Referee Karl Dickson gives the signal — and Jack Crowley gets us underway.

1 min –France 0-0 Ireland: Lucu finds touch with his first kick, and Dan Sheehan’s first lineout finds its target.

2 mins — France 0-0 Ireland: An early reminder of the French threat with ball in hand. Jalibert jinks into space, Cros makes a big carry, Fickou thunders down the wing, and it takes some good scramble defence and a timely intervention to bundle Penaud into touch.

5 mins — France 0-0 Ireland: Penalty to Ireland; Mauvaka was offside. It’s a tricky angle for Crowley and so Ireland consult quickly and point to the corner. Big chance here.

7 mins — France 0-0 Ireland: O’Mahony hauls in the lineout by his fingertips, and when the maul breaks, Sheehan has the first bite, and then Aki runs into a brick wall in Antonio. Beirne and McCarthy have a go as well but there’s advantage being played for offside against Fickou, and it’s back for the penalty.

8 mins — France 0-3 Ireland: PENALTY FOR IRELAND!

It’s a much easier one for Crowley, and he kicks Ireland into an early lead.

8 mins — France 0-3 Ireland: Huge turnover for Ireland from the restart, and it’s captain Peter O’Mahony who is there to pounce. Charles Ollivon tries a pick and go, gets isolated, and O’Mahony is on the spot to force a turnover penalty.

A worrying moment here for Ireland as Andrew Porter is down and will need a HIA. Cian Healy is on, and Karl Dickson and the TMO want another look at the incident that caused that.

9 mins — YELLOW CARD! It’s Paul Willemse, and it’s a clear yellow card at minimum — which will now be reviewed by the bunker official to see if it should be upgraded to red. He caught Porter square on the head with his shoulder as he tried to clear him out.

10 mins – It’s been a fast start by Ireland, reflected by the early possession stats: 68% Ireland versus 32% France.

11 mins — France 0-3 Ireland: Crowley tries to unlock the French defence with a little grubber through, but there isn’t much space to play with in the in-goal area, and it only succeeds in handing the ball back to France.

14 mins – France 0-3 Ireland: They’re still looking at that Willemse yellow in the bunker; they’ve another four minutes or so to make the decision.

15 mins — France 0-3 Ireland: A little bit of kick tennis between Lowe and Ramos, and then Lowe overcooks one and has to hold his breath as comes dangerously close to rolling dead. It stops millimetres short.

16 mins — France 0-3 Ireland: Karl Dickson calls the captains together to relay the decision from the bunker — and Willemse’s yellow will remain a yellow. It’s ruled that Andrew Porter dipped in height before Willemse’s contact.

TRY FOR IRELAND! France 0-10 Ireland (Gibson-Park, 16′)

Huge moment as Ireland finally make their numerical advantage count in the final moments before Willemse’s return. It’s a great carry initially by Lowe, and then thunderous work from Aki who drives through Ramos before finding Gibson-Park running a great support on his shoulder. He runs in the try, Crowley converts, and Ireland are 10-0 up.

18 mins — France 0-10 Ireland: More good news for Ireland as Andrew Porter is cleared to return.

20 mins — France 0-10 Ireland: Big decision here by the match officials as Ireland look to have unlocked the French defence, only for the ball to come off Jonathan Danty’s hand. Was that intentional? And if it was, did it clearly prevent Aki from scoring? Neither, in the view of the officials — it’s a scrum only for Ireland.

21 mins — France 0-10 Ireland: Ireland are inches away from a second try! Off the back of that scrum, Gibson-Park’s fingerprints are all over the break, Crowley carries to within a couple of feet of the line, but as Ireland recycle it and try to power over, van der Flier can’t get it down and it’s held up over the line. Goal-line drop-out.

23 mins — France 0-10 Ireland: MISSED PENALTY! Crowley has a chance to stretch Ireland’s advantage — dead centre, and 34 metres out — but it starts right, stays right, and that’s a let-off for France.

25 mins — France 0-10 Ireland: McCarthy knocks on, France have Ireland in trouble from the resulting scrum, and from a game which could have been 13-0 a few moments ago, it could very quickly be 10-3.

26 mins — France 3-10 Ireland: PENALTY FOR FRANCE! And it is; Thomas Ramos is a machine.

TRY FOR IRELAND! France 3-17 (Beirne, 29′)

The French defence leave the door open a crack, and Ireland punish them! Dan Sheehan’s lineout has been rock solid so far, and it gives them a great platform for this latest attack. Nash carries well, as does Doris, but France have men where they need to and snuff out a succession of phases.

The breakthrough comes when Crowley takes the ball to the line — and ships a big hit for his trouble — and then pops it to Tadhg Beirne who does the rest, touching down under the posts.

Crowley converts and Ireland are 14 points up.

31 mins – Paul Willemse’s in big trouble here. It’s another dangerous tackle with head contact on Caelan Doris. The TMO’s having a look.

31 mins — RED CARD! It’s a clear yellow — at minimum — for Willemse, and that’s the end of his evening. He can’t have any argument there. The bunker ref will still have a look at it to see if it should be upgraded to a straight red card, which would obviously bring with it further disciplinary consequences for Willemse.

34 mins — France 3-17 Ireland: Ireland are pinged for offside at the breakdown and France kick to touch, up on the Irish 22. Mauvaka finds Gabrillagues with the throw — what can they do here?

34 mins — France 3-17 Ireland: Another French penalty — Charles Ollivon trips over Porter, and it’s deemed that he hasn’t done enough to get out of the way — and France go to the corner.

But Ireland steal it! Ollivon can’t gather under huge pressure from Beirne, it bounces back into Sheehan’s hands, and Lowe hoofs clear.

36 mins — France 3-17 Ireland: Ireland scrum just inside their own half, but there’s a scrum penalty given against Porter. France kick it down inside the 22 again. Can they get something on the board before the break?

37 mins — France 3-17 Ireland: Playing penalty advantage to France, but they’ll want more…

38 mins — France 3-17 Ireland: Ireland hold firm, so we’re coming back for the penalty (offside against Porter), but holy god, what an incredible tackle by Hugo Keenan when Penaud looked practically certain to put Moefana away in the corner.

39 mins — France 3-17 Ireland: France turn down the easy three to go to the corner again. Contact in the air at the lineout. Another French penalty.

TRY FOR FRANCE! France 10-17 Ireland (Penaud, 40′)

France’s relentlessness pays off and they have their try with the final play of the half. Mauvaka takes the quick tap and is stopped just short of the Irish line — but France are undeterred and Jalibert holds the ball just long enough to draw the Irish tackle before popping it off to Penaud who dives through the gap in the defensive line to score.

Ramos tucks the conversion just inside the left post, and France are back within seven points as we head in for half time.

HALF TIME: France 10-17 Ireland

Well now, this is certainly living up to its billing. Back in five.

SECOND HALF: Before we get back underway, Karl Dickson lets Charles Ollivon know that the Willemse second yellow has been upgraded to a red.

And now we’re back underway.

41 mins — France 10-17 Ireland: Penalty against Joe McCarthy for swimming in the maul; France point directly to the posts.

42 mins — France 10-17 Ireland: MISSED PENALTY! A rare Thomas Ramos miss! And just as Crowley’s miss was a let-off for France in the first half, that’s definitely one back for Ireland.

43 mins – France 10-17 Ireland: France turn themselves into knots. Lucu goes one way and then turns back on himself to pass to Baille. He’s isolated and Porter gets over him quickly to force the turnover penalty. Ireland kick it down towards the 22.

45 mins — France 10-17 Ireland: Six, seven, eight, nine phases for Ireland in the France 22…

TRY FOR IRELAND! France 10-24 Ireland (Nash, 45′)

C’est magnifique — and it’s a moment that Calvin Nash will remember for the rest of his days: a try on his first Six Nations start.

After knocking on the French door a few times, Ireland go wide and Robbie Henshaw does brilliantly, carrying close to the line, tying up a few defenders, and then getting the ball free to Doris who arrives on the scene in the nick of time. He ships it wide to Nash, and he dives over in the corner to score.

It leaves Crowley with a tricky conversion — but he’s bang on the money and Ireland now lead by 14.

50 mins – The French crowd are livid as Ireland appear to get the benefit of some generous refereeing, but Karl Dickson reverses his decision. 

52 mins – France 10-24 Ireland: The penalty count against Ireland is mounting — that’s 10 now, to France’s six —  and France are within yards of the line here.

52 mins – France have the ball down, do they? We’re going to the TMO but the on-field decision is French try.

While we’re looking at the footage of the try, it’s worth noting that Peter O’Mahony could also be in trouble here for collapsing the maul in the phase before the try.

They’re taking the time over this decision to see if Gibson-Park managed to strip the ball from Gabrillagues and knock it loose before he grounded it. It’s hard to see how they’ll find conclusive evidence to overturn this.

TRY FOR FRANCE! France 17-24 Ireland (Gabrillagues, 52′)

Try given, and Ramos nails the conversion.

52 mins — YELLOW CARD! Peter O’Mahony is off to the bin as well; it’ll be 14 on 14 for the next 10 minutes.

54 mins — France 17-24 Ireland: France are starting to empty their bench with a whole new front row of Wardi, Marchand and Aldegheri all entering the fray. Their first involvement? To win a scrum penalty.

55 mins – France 17-24 Ireland: Ireland steal that French lineout and have possession on the halfway line. Gibson-Park kicks… and it goes straight into touch, much to the delight of the home crowd.

56 mins — France 17-24 Ireland: Moments after Ireland play themselves into trouble, they play themselves straight back out of it: super work from James Lowe who locks onto Thomas Ramos, holds him up until the maul is called, and forces the turnover.

59 mins — France 17-24 Ireland: France are pinged for early engagement at the scrum, Crowley hoofs the free kick into the sky, and Penaud knocks the high ball on under pressure. Great opportunity here as van der Flier gathers and look to punish the mistake.

60 mins – Ireland are five metres out…

60 mins – Back for a penalty advantage to Ireland; Penaud was offside a few phases earlier. They go to the corner.

TRY FOR IRELAND! France 17-31 Ireland (Sheehan, 61′)

Ireland have their bonus-point try — and it’s textbook stuff. McCarthy pulls down the lineout clearly, Ireland set their maul, and Sheehan arrives to take the ball, peel off the edge and score.

Crowley has another very tough conversion from out wide — and again, he drops it over. That’s two great kicks from him.

On comms on Virgin Media, Dave McIntyre has the stat: Ireland’s 31 points equals their best-ever score away against France.

64 mins — France 17-31 Ireland: Bad handling error in midfield from Louis Bielle-Biarrey, who has just come off the French bench to replace Jonathan Danty.

65 mins — France 17-31 Ireland: Ireland come forward again but it’s a turned over by a brilliant tackle and rip from replacement scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec.

66 mins — France 17-31 Ireland: Joe McCarthy takes his leave after an excellent Six Nations debut, and James Ryan comes on his place. Ireland have freshened things up with Healy, Kelleher and Bealham all on in the front row as well.

69 mins — France 17-31 Ireland: Ramos tries a little grubber in behind to get Ireland turned, but Gibson-Park is there to cover.

70 mins — France 17-31 Ireland: That’s Gibson-Park’s last involvement of a very productive evening, as Conor Murray comes on in his place. And it’s also the end of Reda Wardi’s evening as he goes off with a nasty-looking injury; Baille has to come back in.

72 mins — France 17-31 Ireland: A break in play, so the French TV director treats us to mini-compilation of some huge Posolo Tuilagi carries. It took both Beirne and Kelleher to bring him down on the most recent one.

73 mins — France 17-31 Ireland: Jack Conan wants to play a bit of football! He weights a lovely chip through for Keenan to chase, and Jalibert has no option but to hack it into touch for an Irish lineout.

74 mins — France 17-31 Ireland: Strange call there as Jack Crowley tries a cross-field kick to… nobody. Nolann Le Garrec claims it.

76 mins — France 17-31 Ireland: Fickou is offside, and again, maybe there’s a miscommunication among the Irish team: Crowley thinks he’s taking a shot, but Caelan Doris as on-field captain has said they’ll kick to touch.

Joe McCarthy is your Player of the Match!

TRY FOR IRELAND! France 17-38 Ireland (Kelleher, 77′)

Miscommunication or not, it works in Ireland’s favour — they take the lineout, set the maul, and from there, it’s a formality as the French defenders fall away to leave Ronan Kelleher to score.

Crowley converts, and while it hasn’t been perfect, this has been a real statement of intent by Ireland.

FULL TIME: France 17-38 Ireland

That’s it! A night that will go in to the Irish rugby record books, as they leave a subdued Marseille with their best-ever score against France in France — and five very valauble points.

Player of the Match Joe McCarthy:

“It’s never easy away in France. We probably didn’t expect to get such a high score. The atmosphere is mental. Everybody dug in. It was a fantastic team performance.

“Our set-piece went well. We won our lineout ball, got a good strike off that. We were in sync as a team and everybody played their part.”

McCarthy is asked to sum up Jack Crowley’s night:

“He’s an absolute baller.”

Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony:

“Very proud of the lads with our control of the game. Cool under certain decisions, composed. Got a bit frantic with the last 10 minutes, down to 14 with my yellow card, but we stayed with the plan all the time and we didn’t get carried away with positive or negative moments. I thought it was a good start, good performance.”

That’s all from us for now, but stay with us over the course of the evening for lots more reaction and analysis on a massive night for Irish rugby in Marseille.

Thanks for reading!

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