Fronting Up

Demons: Five French failures that can be exorcised with a win in Paris

They say you never know which France will turn up. Well, whoever shows up to play Ireland in Paris they’re usually good enough to win.

SINCE ENDING A 28-year dry-spell in 2000, it feels like every second year Irish Rugby packs its bags for Paris with an attitude that says, ‘of course we can win!’

Especially in the early part of the century, we went with enough hope, experience and confidence to believe the Les Bleus can be beaten.

There were disappointments on home soil too. Yet somehow, in Paris and in Melbourne, the Blue Magic was never on our side.

World Cup 2003

Spirits were high in Melbourne, Ireland had dispensed with the old foe Argentina and come within about two feet of beating the host nation, Australia.

Having beaten France three out of four times before heading down under, many thought our first ever semi-final was on the way, but then this happened…

wc magne

… and a well-rested French side would go on to thump us 43 – 21.

Six Nations 2006

The Ultimate example of the cliche that says; ‘you can’t win it in the first half, but you can lose it’. France arrived in Paris and wandered into every single trap laid for them.

This was France’s fourth try of the day.

geordo 06

It’s a game of two halves though. And once France were safely home and hosed, they eased off the pedal a little and our brave boys in green were too proud to know they were already beaten. 43 – 31 turned out to be a flattering scoreline.

MottiRugby / YouTube

World Cup 2007

The best said about our not-so-jolly jaunt to France, the better.

Were Ireland undercooked? Overcooked? Who knows, but having just about held on to beat Georgia in Bordeaux nobody fancied anything but a home win in Paris and the French duly had us on some ‘pain grille’. No contest ; 25 – 3.

inpho_00245536 (1) M ROBINOT / PanoramiC M ROBINOT / PanoramiC / PanoramiC

Six Nations 2008

If you thought that Vincent Clerc had had enough of tormenting Ireland, you were very, very wrong.

The winger ran in a first-half hat-trick to hold the nail steady on Eddie O’Sullivan’s slender hopes of holding onto his position after the World Cup.

Of course, Ireland rallied. But David Wallace adding to a penalty try was not enough to reel in Les Bleus. 26 – 21, we were once again so near, yet so far.

Bored Irish fans Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Six Nations 2010

The Grand Slam champions came to the City of Lights in round two of the Championship with a win already under their belts. High on confidence? You bet we were! The 33 – 10 scoreline ensured Italy proved to be the final notch in a 12-game unbeaten for Declan Kidney.

RBS 6 Nations / YouTube

This year, of course, it feels different. France have not beaten Ireland since the warm-up for the 2011 World Cup and there is nothing in the way Philippe Saint-Andre’s side have played this year (or last) to make us think they have improved.

Ireland on the other hand, have made massive strides in a very short space of time. But to win in Paris is no mean feat, and if Joe Schmidt can accomplish that in his first year in charge, then it will be an achievement well worth celebrating – just as well there’ll be a trophy nearby.

‘Out goes the sledgehammer, in comes the vice’ – Ross ready to put squeeze on France

‘This is not funny’ – France prop Nicolas Mas walks out of press conference

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