Thursday, 22 February, 2018

Ireland Gear Up For 6 Nations Clash With France

Stockdale fit for France clash as Ireland announce clean bill of health Schmidt: No New Injury Concerns Ahead Of Ireland's Meeting With France.
Lillian Steele | 06 February, 2018, 14:49

Kick-off is at 4.45pm today (Saturday, February 3).

Les Bleus were not lacking endeavour, but struggled to cause problems for a well-drilled Ireland side and more indiscipline enabled Sexton to double their lead from the tee.

What are the match odds?

The HIA is not without its flaws and the manner in which referees no longer take any chances is to be commended, but what happened in the 76th minute in Paris was scandalous.

Amongst all the talk of potential Six Nations victor and losers, Lovelace went on to discuss the current state of rugby union betting, and what can be done to ensure it grows and increases its appeal: "Betting on rugby union and Six Nations has improved over the past few years but there is a long way to go for it to compete and rival the likes of football, tennis, darts and other sports that have a far higher level of activity from our punters".

A draw is priced at 25/1.

"I think about a third of each team are the same as the starting 15, even in two years with those sort of changes, they do paint a very different picture and certainly the picture is very hard to see in any particular clarity", he said.

Head coach Joe Schmidt has included three six nations debutants for the clash - with Jacob Stockdale, Bundee Aki and James Ryan named to start.

France meanwhile have six uncapped players in their side, including Bordeaux's 19-year-old prodigy Matthieu Jalibert, who will become the youngest fly-half to start a Five or Six Nations game for France. That's not to mention Henderson claiming the restart or the clear-out work done by the likes of Jack McGrath, John Ryan, Fergus McFadden and Toner.

France: G Palis; T Thomas, R Lamerat, H Chavancy, V Vakatawa; M Jalibert (A Belleau 29), M Machenaud (A Dupont 67); J Poirot (D Priso 55), G Guirado (A Pelissie 74), R Slimani (C Gomes Sa 55), A Iturria (P Gabrillagues 61), S Vahaamahina, W Lauret (M Tauleigne 67), K Gourdon.

From an objective point of view, the signs point to an Ireland victory.

Meanwhile France coach Jacques Brunel insisted his medical team had not made the decision.

"We know we're not favourites but these two weeks we've built a spirit that will allow us to compete with this team".

They were reprimanded for not following HIA protocols, although the Untoward Incident Review Group found there was "no clear evidence" France had "tried to obtain a competitive advantage".

Schmidt though has batted away all talk of Ireland as tournament favourites, something that should focus a side that boasts considerable strength in depth.

Yet, if anything were to restore a feel-good atmosphere to Ireland's Six Nations campaign, this was it.

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