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The History Boys: Ireland versus France

Those who forget the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them. We highlight six lessons which Declan Kidney’s men might learn from previous encounters against the French.

1. Pre-match motivational speeches might not be enough

If speeches like the one which Paul O’Connell famously delivered before the French visit to Croke Park in 2007 aren’t enough to spur a team on to victory, then what is?

2. It helps to move the ball quickly

Speed isn’t everything in rugby, but it can provide a crucial advantage. Didier Camberabero’s lightning-fast try from the 1988 Five Nations game shows just how easily fluid rugby can slice defenses open.

Are you listening down the back, O’Leary?

3. Don’t be afraid to put the boot in

… but be subtle about it. I’m not sure Alexis Palisson has ever been the same since Jerry Flannery got his … um … boot on him last year.

4. If in doubt, give it to Drico

I don’t care how old he is. If Captain Fantastic can reproduce a smidgen of this form on Sunday afternoon, Ireland have more than a fighting chance.

5. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings

Croke Park was rocking in 2007 as Ronan O’Gara’s 78th minute penalty looked to have given Ireland a memorable win in GAA Headquarters.

Unfortunately, rugby games these days tend to last 80 minutes rather than 78. Who knew?

Vincent Clerc did.

6. Never forget that at the end of the day, it’s only a game

Nobody likes to lose a game, especially not your last international for your country.

Who can forget this wonderful moment of sportsmanship from 2003 as Fabien Galthie forget about celebrating the 44-5 tonking which his side had just handed out and embraced the retiring Keith Wood? What a gent.