Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
©INPHO/Colm O'Neill Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip calls the shots.
# 6 Nations
France fightback ends promising night on a dampener for Jamie Heaslip
Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan admitted he was ‘bemused’ by a late decision to penalise the Irish scrum.

IT WAS ENTIRELY unintentional but France captain Thierry Dusautoir started Jamie Heaslip’s night on a damp note.

Dusautoir and French coach Philippe Saint-Andre had just left the briefing room after speaking about character and avoiding wooden spoons when the Irish captain entered.

He took his seat as 50-odd dictaphones were placed in his vicinity and his face soured.

The French skipper, who had yet to change from his match rig-out, had left a Dusautoir-shaped wet patch on Heaslip’s seat.

Having switched seats, Heaslip spoke of a 24 hour period [Saturday 8pm to Sunday 8pm] where the players would attempt to file away the might-have-beens of their 13-13 draw and allow bodies and minds to heal.

He told, “We gave them a couple of easy outs at, I’m not going to say crucial times but times that could have gained us momentum when we were in their green zone and applying a lot of pressure. That is a little bit disappointing.”

The squad were once again ensconced at Carton House last night but Eoin Reddan [leg fracture] and Fergus McFadden [broken rib] are the latest casualties from a gruelling campaign.

Paradise lost

Donnacha Ryan will be on the ’50/50′ list for the third match running, ahead of Saturday’s encounter with Italy, after taking a dozen or more blows to his troubled right shoulder.

Ryan was off the pitch, replaced by Iain Henderson, when France won a scrum put-in and then a penalty, which Louis Picamoles scored from, five metres from the Irish tryline. He said:

I’m a bit bemused at the [scrum decision by referee Steve Walsh], considering we had the momentum and were going forward.”

Ryan added, “We did some really good things out there, played the conditions well, and I thought we really dominated them up front. It’s frustrating to just have a draw at the end of it and all that effort.”

Picamoles beats Ryan and Peter O’Mahony to the ball. (©INPHO/Colm O’Neill)

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The lineouts and resulting mauls, following ball retention, was a huge positive for the Irish and something that, after the inaccuracies of Murrayfield two weeks ago, coach Declan Kidney was most pleased with.

Ryan said, “I thought Rory Best had an exceptional day with the lineout. It wasn’t my intention to take as many[eight]… I thought Mike McCarthy, Sean O’Brien and Jamie did really well.

“We had some pretty intense, huge mauls and moved it 20 yards at one stage.”

The Munster lock noted that the Irish dressing room was night the liveliest of spots, post-match, after ‘a mammoth effort’ and an opportunity lost to down the French.

Before Ryan left the mixed interview zone, he asked me what the latest news on Off The Ball was and, mistaking me for the show’s former host Eoin McDevitt, said it was a shame that we had left Newstalk.

I told him the Off The Ball lads would be back together on-air soon. He looked like he needed some cheering up.

Mounting cost: McFadden joins list of injured as Reddan heads for surgery