'I could not imagine we would suffer as much' - Brunel

France’s wildly inconsistent form continued in Dublin as they produced an abject performance against Ireland.

Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium

ONE STEP FORWARD, two steps back. It was unsettling, embarrassing even, to watch France unravel with such indignity. Abject, at best.

The boos which were directed at the visiting players from the travelling supporters was hardly a surprising reaction — what else have we come to expect from Les Bleus? This was another miserable day for French rugby.

Demba Bamba dejected after the game Demba Bamba shows his war wounds. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Jacques Brunel had rewarded the same 23 from Scotland with another opportunity here. At last, some continuity and, with an exciting core of youngsters in Ramos, Dupont and Ntamack, there were signs of a French revival. A renaissance. 

But they responded to that Scottish win with another humiliating showing, shades of Twickenham in round two, as France again were horribly ill-disciplined, disinterested and disjointed. Yoann Huget and Camille Chat crossed for late consolation tries, but there could be no salvation here. 

Ireland enjoyed large tracts of possession and territory — 65% and 72% — while Brunel’s side incredibly spent just under 30 seconds inside the Irish 22 with ball in hand. 

“They had 80% possession,” a disappointed Brunel said.

The French coach failed to accept responsibility for his side’s hammering at Twickenham, and there was a similar air of acceptance here. 

“We didn’t have the ball in the first half so we didn’t have the chance to do anything. They choked us. At the end, we showed a different face but we made too many mistakes in defence.

“It is clear that I am disappointed. Fortunately, the end of the game reassures me a little bit about the character shown by the team. I could not imagine that we would suffer as much. We defended by committing fouls and that brought the Irish closer to our goal.”

Ireland, bringing an intensity and physicality resemblant of their 2018 form, controlled the game, utterly dominating all facets during the opening 40 to cross three times through Rory Best, Johnny Sexton and Jack Conan.

Keith Earls added a fourth after the break, at which stage a record victory over France was very much on the cards, and had it not been for a couple of frustrating handling errors in the red zone, Joe Schmidt’s side could have easily put 50 points on the visitors.

Jacques Brunel France head coach Brunel. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Brunel, however, is not worried six months out from the World Cup. 

“No, I am not worried, we played an Irish team with more confidence and good performances behind them,” he maintained. 

I repeat, we showed character in the second half because in the first half we missed the boat completely, but I will retain assurance for the end of the match which showed that we as a team did not hold our hands up in surrender but kept on going.

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Hooker, and captain, Guilhem Guirado added: “It was an intense match but we definitely defended well as a team, we did not shirk our responsibilities.

“When you are defending relentlessly you are bound to make a few errors which are costly.” 

Italy next week in Rome. Must win.

“I hope my team will be able to compete with all the teams in the championship, not just Italy,” Brunel concluded. “But we should not underestimate the Italians and their abilities.”

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Ryan Bailey

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