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Countdown To Paris: One Day To Go

Countdown To Paris: One Day To Go

…O’Driscoll Looking Forward To ‘Monumental Challenge’…Ireland Could Rise To Sixth…Let There Be Light…Say What?…Numbers Game…

O’DRISCOLL LOOKING FORWARD TO MONUMENTAL CHALLENGE: Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll talked to IrishRugby.ie earlier in the week about Marc Lievremont’s French side and the new Leinster players in the Irish squad.

“It’s a new-looking French side, I suppose it’s exciting for everyone except their opposition. It’s going to be another monumental challenge. We’ve struggled the last three or four occasions playing France at Stade de France,” O’Driscoll said.

“We’ve to go out with the same attitude, to stop their momentum in the first 20 minutes or half-an-hour, dig our heels in and try and implement our own game plan. It’s a tough job in itself but that’s the way to go about beating them.”

With Leinster trio Rob Kearney, Bernard Jackman and Jamie Heaslip set for their first Six Nations starts this weekend, O’Driscoll admitted: “It’s fantastic for the guys. From Berch’s and Jamie’s point of view, they’ve show some fantastic form this year and deserve to be in.

“Kearns, not that he doesn’t deserve it himself, with the injury to Darce, he came on and did a fantastic job the last day and has been presented an opportunity on the left wing.

“The way he’s played and talked to and learnt from some of the experienced players this year has really helped him out with his game. I think he’s becoming a very polished performer now.”

To hear the interview in full, please click here.

IRELAND COULD RISE TO SIXTH: If Ireland can maintain their winning start to the Six Nations this weekend and beat France for the first time since 2003, Eddie O’Sullivan’s side will move up to sixth place in the IRB World Rankings.

Since their poor World Cup performance, the Irish have been ranked seventh. Currently they are 78.70 rating points, just ahead of Wales and over three rating points behind France.

The men in green could move higher than sixth if they beat France by a convincing margin and England lose heavily to Italy in Rome.

England currently hold the honour of being Europe’s top-ranked side despite falling one place to fifth position after their defeat to Wales last Saturday.

If England were to lose in Rome against the 11th-ranked Italians, then France would need to continue their impressive record against Ireland on home soil – les Bleus have won 16 of their last 17 Five/Six Nations encounters in France – to climb to fifth.


(1) South Africa 90.81 rating points
(2) New Zealand 89.59
(3) Argentina 87.42
(4) Australia 84.20
(5) England 83.55
(6) France 81.73
(7) IRELAND 78.70
(8) Wales 76.17
(9) Fiji 75.88
(10) Scotland 75.32

LET THERE BE LIGHT: Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna has insisted there will not be a repeat of the power outage and loss of floodlights which occurred during Ireland’s win over Italy last weekend.

“We had a power outage for about 50 minutes, which started towards the end of the first half of the match. What was disappointing from our point of view was that the floodlights went down,” McKenna admitted.

“We’ve investigated that thoroughly. It was an operator error in how the floodlights were set up. The floodlights have been checked now and they will not go down in the future, even with a power outage.

“On the positive side, our emergency lights kicked in. Everyone was in a safe comfortable environment until we got the power back.

“It was obviously a disappointment for people in the Hogan Stand. It was certainly not something we were proud of, particularly with the floodlights.

“Personally I wasn’t happy that the situation happened. It won’t happen again,” he added.

Two of Ireland’s remaining fixtures in the 2008 Six Nations are at Croke Park against Scotland (February 23, kick-off 5pm) and Wales (March 8, kick-off 1.15pm).


“I have an awful lot of respect for them but I haven’t waited 10 years to get a cap to worry about France all week. I’ve never been (to Stade de France) but I’ve seen it on TV and it looks grand.”

– Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman, who will make his full Six Nations debut this weekend against France, is coolness personified as he looks ahead to the game

“I don’t know what has happened with them. It is sometimes what happens at a club. Everything is going well and then you come to a stop and everything becomes difficult.
“I remain convinced that Ireland are going to bounce back. They have too many quality players.”

– France captain Lionel Nallet gives his views on the Irish team and their recent run of poor form

“It’s going to be different with Trims in the centre but he’s become a bit of a seasoned campaigner himself.

“I thought he played very well, defended extremely well against Italy. I’ve played against him a few times, he’s not the easiest guy to take down. Plenty of that hard running against the French and I’m sure he can put some holes in their defence.

“We were kinda swapping at 12 and 13. He’s a confident player, he’s confident in his ability and he’s an incredible athlete.

“Hopefully that can all work in our favour and kinda throw in an element of the unknown – maybe myself and Darce were a little easier to work out. Now this freshness might change things a little bit from the French point of view.”

– Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll on Andrew Trimble joining him in the centre, after Gordon D’Arcy’s arm injury against Italy. Trimble will partner O’Driscoll again in midfield from the start against France


790 – Ronan O’Gara is now eighth on the list of world rugby’s all-time top points scorers. 78 of those points came against France, including tries in the 2006 and 2007 Six Nations matches. The Ireland out-half is 83 points behind South Africa’s Percy Montgomery on the world list

4 – France winger Vincent Clerc has scored four tries in five outings against Ireland. He was the scourge of Ireland in 2007 as his last-gasp score handed France victory in the first international to be played at Croke Park and he also touched down twice in France’s 25-3 World Cup pool win over Eddie O’Sullivan’s side

7 – The number of players in the Ireland squad for Saturday’s encounter that were in the matchday 22 for that famous Paris win over les Bleus in 2000. They include three-try hero Brian O’Driscoll, Girvan Dempsey, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, John Hayes, Malcolm O’Kelly and Simon Easterby