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Three things we learned from Ireland v France

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Dublin (AFP)

Ireland kept alive a slim chance of retaining their Six Nations title ahead of next weekend's final round of matches with a 26-14 win over France at Dublin's Lansdowne Road on Sunday.

The final scoreline flattered a lacklustre France, with Ireland 26-0 ahead -- and a four-try bonus point secured -- until the visitors scored two tries in the closing three minutes.

Below AFP Sport looks in detail at three aspects of the match:

Larmour shines after late call-up

Jordan Larmour may only have been called into the Ireland side after veteran full-back Rob Kearney withdrew on the morning of the match with a calf injury but no one would have known that from the way he played.

The 21-year-old, making just his third Test start, was assured from the kick-off running the ball back with intent before putting in an excellent grubber kick behind the defence which set up a line-out near the French line that ultimately led to Ireland's first try.

Tough day for Dupont

France scrum-half Antoine Dupont, one of the rising stars of the French game, was not at his best in a match where Les Bleus spent much of the time camped near their own try-line, with Ireland captain Rory Best powering past him for the first try of the match as early as the third minute.

It would have been asking a lot for an experienced No. 9 to turn the tide in these circumstances, let a lone a 22-year-old, making just his fourth start in 13 Tests, but France will hope Dupont is a better player in the long run for this chastening experience.

Language barrier

Rugby union is unusual among major team sports in that referees, unlike say their football equivalents, now often give detailed verbal instructions to teams when they feel they are on the brink of committing an infringement of the rules as well as explaining why they have given a penalty against them after they have transgressed.

That wouldn't matter so much if they were speaking to players in their own language.

But not for the first time in a match involving a non-English side, Sunday saw New Zealand referee Ben O'Keeffe communicate with France captain Guilhem Guirado and his side solely in English.

It had no effect on the result, but it does highlight a persistent unfairness in modern rugby union ahead of this year's World Cup in Japan.

Either officials should revert to the old system of mainly using agreed hand signals and cut the chat down to a minimum, or talk to both sides in a language each team understands fluently.

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