We hit the halfway point in all three Six Nations Championships this weekend, with the Ireland Men, Women and Under-20s – all currently in the top two of their respective tables – braced for a French invasion.
UNDER-20 SIX NATIONS: Friday, February 24
IRELAND UNDER-20s (2nd) v FRANCE UNDER-20s (3rd), Donnybrook, 8pm (live RTÉ Two/www.rte.ie/live (island of Ireland only))
– Should the Ireland Under-20s beat France this weekend, they will equal their best ever run in the Six Nations of six wins between 2007 and 2008
– The last time that the Ireland U-20s began a Six Nations campaign with three successive victories was in 2012
– The France U-20s’ only defeat in their last four matches in the Six Nations was to England at Exeter in round 1
– The France U-20s have won just once on the road in their last four away games in the Six Nations: 36-21 in Scotland in round 4 last year
– The France U-20s’ lone defeat in their last five fixtures against Ireland in all tournaments was 37-20 at Athlone in 2015
– France’s only previous victory in Ireland in the U-20 Six Nations was in 2011 at Dubarry Park
RECENT SIX NATIONS MEETINGS:
Friday, February 11, 2011 – Ireland U-20s 13 France U-20s 38, Dubarry Park
Saturday, February 11, 2012 – France U-20s 12 Ireland U-20s 13, Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
Friday, March 8, 2013 – Ireland U-20s 22 France U-20s 5, Dubarry Park
Friday, March 14, 2014 – France U-20s 23 Ireland U-20s 13, Stade Maurice Trelut, Tarbes
Friday, February 13, 2015 – Ireland U-20s 37 France U-20s 20, Dubarry Park
Friday, February 12, 2016 – France U-20s 34 Ireland U-20s 13, Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitié, Narbonne
Match Ticket Information: Tickets can be bought via www.ticketmaster.ie or on the night at Donnybrook. Stand €;20, Terrace €;15, Children Terrace or Stand €;10, Family (Two adults and two children) Terrace €;30.
IRELAND U-20: Rob Lyttle (Queen’s University/Ulster); Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Tommy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster), Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster) (capt); Bill Johnston (Garryowen/Munster), Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University/Ulster); Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster), Tadgh McElroy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Charlie Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster), Jack Regan (UCD/Leinster), Oisin Dowling (Lansdowne/Leinster), Marcus Rea (Queen’s University/Ulster), Paul Boyle (Lansdowne/Leinster), Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster).
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher (UCD/Leinster), Rory Mulvihill (UCD/Leinster), Peter Cooper (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster), Sean Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht), Jack Lyons (Young Munster/Munster), Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster), Alex McHenry (Cork Constitution/Munster).
FRANCE U-20: Romain Buros (Pau); Faraj Fartass (Stade Francais), Pierre-Louis Barassi (Lyon), Theo Dachary (Biarritz Olympique), William Iraguha (Massy Essonne); Romain Ntamack (Toulouse), Arthur Retiere (La Rochelle); Kevin Tougne (Perpignan), Etienne Fourcade (Grenoble), Thomas Laclayat (Oyonnax), Florian Verhaeghe (Toulouse) (capt), Mickael Capelli (Grenoble), Dylan Cretin (Lyon), Julien Ruaud (Clermont Auvergne), Alexandre Roumat (Biarritz Olympique).
Replacements: Leo Aouf (La Rochelle), Florian Dufour (Agen), Georges Henri Colombe (Racing 92), Killian Geraci (Grenoble), Cameron Woki (Massy Essonne), Baptiste Couilloud (Lyon), Anthony Fuertes (La Rochelle), Theo Millet (Stade Francais).
Referee: Tom Foley (England)
Assistant Referees: Phil Watters, Hamish Smales (both England)
Television Match Official: Stuart Terheege (England)
RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Saturday, February 25
IRELAND (2nd) v FRANCE (4th), Aviva Stadium, 4.50pm (live RTÉ Two/UTV/ITV/DMAX/FR2/RTÉ Radio 1/IRFU Live Blog)
STATS & FACTS
– In round 2 of the RBS 6 Nations, Ireland achieved their biggest ever victory and the most points they have ever scored in a Championship game since they contested the inaugural event in 1883
– Ireland’s only defeat in their last six Tests at the Aviva Stadium was against New Zealand in the autumn. They have not been defeated at the venue in the RBS 6 Nations since England were the visitors in round 2 of 2013
– Ireland have won only once in round 3 in the last five seasons: over England in Dublin two years ago
– France’s victory over Scotland in round 2 ended a three-match losing run in Test matches
– France have lost their last four away games in the Championship since beating Italy 29-0 in Rome in round 4 in 2015
– France have not been victorious in a round 3 encounter since they beat Wales in Cardiff in 2010, on their way to a Grand Slam
– France’s 10-9 success against Ireland in last season’s RBS 6 Nations ended a five-match winless run against the Irish, their worst sequence against the men in green since the 1920s
– France have recorded only one Championship victory over Ireland in Dublin since 2007: 25-22 at the Aviva Stadium in 2011
RECENT SIX NATIONS MEETINGS:
Sunday, February 13, 2011 – Ireland 22 France 25, Aviva Stadium
Sunday, March 4, 2012 – France 17 Ireland 17, Stade de France
Saturday, March 9, 2013 – Ireland 13 France 13, Aviva Stadium
Saturday, March 15, 2014 – France 20 Ireland 22, Stade de France
Saturday, February 14, 2015 – Ireland 18 France 11, Aviva Stadium
Saturday, February 13, 2016 – France 10 Ireland 9, Stade de France
IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster), Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster), Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster).
Replacements: Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht), Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster).
FRANCE: Scott Spedding (Clermont Auvergne); Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Remi Lamerat (Clermont Auvergne), Gael Fickou (Toulouse), Noa Nakaitaci (Clermont Auvergne); Camille Lopez (Clermont Auvergne), Baptiste Serin (Bordeaux-Bègles); Cyril Baille (Toulouse), Guilhem Guirado (Toulon) (capt), Rabah Slimani (Stade Francais), Sebastien Vahaamahina (Clermont Auvergne), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Bernard Le Roux (Racing 92), Kevin Gourdon (La Rochelle), Louis Picamoles (Northampton Saints).
Replacements: Christopher Tolofua (Toulouse), Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Eddy Ben Arous (Racing 92), Julien Le Devedec (Brive), Charles Ollivon (Toulon), Maxime Machenaud (Racing 92), Henry Chavancy (Racing 92), Djibril Camara (Stade Francais).
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes, Luke Pearce (both England)
Television Match Official: George Ayoub (Australia)
WOMEN’S SIX NATIONS: Sunday, February 26
– The Ireland Women have begun their Six Nations campaign with a pair of maximum point victories and have only once before started with three successive wins in the Championship, when they claimed the Grand Slam in 2013
– Ireland’s only defeat in their last 13 home games in the Women’s Six Nations was to France at Ashbourne in round 2 of the 2015 tournament
– The Ireland Women have played six previous Tests at Donnybrook with their only defeat being 14-7 to Wales in 2006
– France have lost just one of their last four Women’s Six Nations matches: 26-13 to England at Twickenham in round 1 and have not lost back-to-back away games in the Championship since 2009
– In 24 previous encounters between the two nations France have lost just twice, both at Ashbourne, in 2009 and 2013
RECENT SIX NATIONS MEETINGS:
Friday, February 11, 2011 – Ireland Women 12 France Women 14, Ashbourne RFC
Saturday, February 11, 2012 – France Women 8 Ireland Women 7, Stade du Hameau, Pau
Friday, March 8, 2013 – Ireland Women 15 France Women 10, Ashbourne RFC
Friday, March 14, 2014 – France Women 19 Ireland Women 15, Stade du Hameau, Pau
Friday, February 13, 2015 – Ireland Women 5 France Women 10, Ashbourne RFC
Saturday, February 13, 2016 – France Women 18 Ireland Women 6, Stade Aime Giral, Perpignan
Match Ticket Information: Tickets can be bought via www.ticketmaster.ie or on the day at Donnybrook. Stand €;15, Terrace €;10, Children Terrace or Stand €;5, Family (Two adults and two children) Terrace €;25.
IRELAND WOMEN: Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht); Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/Ulster), Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster) (capt).
Replacements: Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht), Ilse van Staden (Cooke/Ulster), Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/Connacht), Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union), Nikki Caughey (Railway Union/Ulster), Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster).
FRANCE WOMEN: Jessy Tremouliere (Romagnat); Camille Grassineau (FFR), Caroline Ladagnous (Bobigny 93), Elodie Poublan (Montpellier), Shannon Izar (Lille-Villeneuve d’Ascq); Camille Cabalou (Bayonne), Jade Le Pesq (Rennes); Lise Arricastre (Lons Bearn Pyrenees), Gaelle Mignot (Montpellier) (capt), Julie Duval (Caen), Lenaig Corson (Rennes), Audrey Forlani (Blagnac-St Orens), Marjorie Mayans (Blagnac-St Orens), Romane Menager (Lille-Villeneuve d’Ascq), Safi N’Diaye (Montpellier).
Replacements: Caroline Thomas (Romagnat), Annaelle Deshayes (Caen), Celine Ferer (Bayonne), Laetitia Grand (Lons Bearn Pyrenees), Yanna Rivoalen (Lille-Villeneuve d’Ascq), Lucille Godiveau (Bobigny 93), Marine Menager (Lille-Villeneuve d’Ascq), Patricia Carricaburu (Lons Bearn Pyrenees).
Referee: Sara Cox (England)
Assistant Referees: Beatrice Benvenuti (Italy), Helen O’Reilly (Ireland)
Television Match Official: Sean Davey (England)
– Compiled by SFMS Limited (Stuart Farmer Media Services)