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France vs Ireland: The experts’ view

Text by Thibault LIEURADE , Emmanuel VERSACE

Latest update : 2010-02-12

Ahead of the France vs Ireland match on Saturday in Paris, FRANCE 24 spoke to former internationals and top sports journalists from both countries to get the experts' view on this clash.

"If Ireland perform, they can win"
Tony Ward (pictured), Ireland fly-half between 1978 and 1987, 19 caps

"Last weekend, Ireland did not play well against Italy but it was still a positive win, because it reinforced the self-confidence they acquired after last year's Grand Slam win. I think that after Ireland watched the France vs Scotland game at Murrayfield, I think they will have realised that they are up against a highly motivated and well organised team. It will certainly be a very physically demanding game. Ireland need to perform, and if they do, they can win this game".

"France's defense must discourage Ireland's offensive lines"
Didier Camberabero (pictured), France’s fly-half between 1982 and 1991, 36 caps.

"It’s hard to predict how this game will go. France beat a weak Scotland in their opening game, so it is hard to judge very much from this performance. France played a good first half and then eased up in the second. Ireland did the same against Italy. It seems the neither team is really showing what they can do yet… France will need to word hard in defense and in the scrums to beat Ireland, like they did at Murrayfield on Sunday. Moreover, they must put not rest on their laurels at any point during the game. Four years ago, Les Bleus were leading by 40 points with half an hour to go, and the Irish side fought back to only trail by 12 at full time. I think France learnt a lesson from this experience: Ireland can be dangerous under any circumstances. Les Bleus’ defense must cover their offensive lines as early as possible in the game".

"Ireland must prevent France from taking the game"
Hugh Farelly, rugby correspondent at the Irish Independent daily

"The French side can count on some really great players, like Imanol Harinordoquy. He is a key player in the squad. He is probably the best number eight in the world when he is on form like he was against Scotland. Other players, such as Fulgence Ouedraogo or Thierry Dussautoir, are also very strong. There is also Vincent Clerc, who spectacularly denied Ireland a Grand Slam victory in 2007, he makes the Irish team very nervous. As for Mathieu Bastareaud, he is strong and very efficient on straight lines but in shift and side, he still has a lot to prove. There is a lot of hype surrounding him, but I still think he has a lot to learn. On Saturday, Ireland will need to take control of the game and must stop the French from dictating the pace. Coach Declan Kindney has a lucky touch,and won the Grand Slam last year. The team have also won their last 12 matches. Psychologically, it is tough playing the French in Paris, but Kindney inspires confidence in the players and I think they will be OK. I am optimistic. I can see Ireland winning by two points."

"An Irish win wouldn't be a surprise"
Jérôme Prévot, journalist at rugby newspaper Midi Olympique

"I am quite optimistic for France. Les Bleus scored against Scotland and just missed out on getting two more. Furthermore, Scotland failed to score any tries. Ireland will certainly be a great opponent, they have won their last 12 games! Ireland can rely on the experience of some of their key players such as Brian O’Driscoll. And they are used to crunch matches, be they internationals or championships. The Shamrock XV will certainly not be helpless in Paris. Though I am optimistic, I would not be surprised to see France lose with by a 4 or 5-point margin".

Date created : 2010-02-12


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