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Six Nations Preview: France Women v Ireland Women

Six Nations Preview: France Women v Ireland Women

The Ireland Women’s squad still have a mathematical chance of retaining their Six Nations crown, but they will need to create history against France in Pau this evening in order to do so.


FRANCE WOMEN (1st) v IRELAND WOMEN (2nd), Stade du Hameau, Pau, 6.45pm local time/5.45pm Irish time (live RTÉ Two/’Game On’ RTÉ 2fm/www.rte.ie/live (worldwide))

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Team News: Ireland Women’s head coach Philip Doyle has made three personnel changes and one positional switch to the team that ran out convincing 39-0 winners over Italy at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday.

Jenny Murphy, Larissa Muldoon and Ailis Egan all return to the starting line-up in place of Grace Davitt, Amy Davis and Stacey-Lea Kennedy respectively.

Egan comes in at loosehead prop with Gillian Bourke swapping back into hooker.

France are unbeaten to date and boast a scoring difference of +137, meaning that Ireland require a 20-point victory at Stade du Hameau in Pau on Friday if they are to have any chance of retaining their Six Nations crown.

The girls in green are second in the table with a +99 scoring difference. They are level on six points with England (+90), who could also win the title if they score a big win over Italy and the result in Pau goes their way.

Doyle commented: “The team put in a fine performance against Italy in their first ever game at the Aviva Stadium but we are under no illusions as to the challenge ahead of us.

“France are the form team of the Championship and beat England reasonably comfortably in round 1. We will need to match their physicality and take our chances when they come.”

There will be live TV coverage on RTÉ Two and www.rte.ie/live as Ireland go in search of their first ever away victory over France, and you can also follow the game via live radio commentary on RTÉ 2fm’s ‘Game On’. Match tickets are on sale here.

Meanwhile, the French management have unsurprisingly made minimal changes to the team that hammered Scotland 69-0 in Howthornden last time out.

France ran in 11 tries against the Scots with influential number 8 Safi N’Diaye helping herself to a brace.

The only changes to the starting line-up see Marjorie Mayans come in at inside centre for the benched Elodie Pouban, and Marine De Nadaï replaces Sandra Rabier in the second row.

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Women’s RBS 6 Nations Results/Fixtures

Women’s RBS 6 Nations Table

FRANCE WOMEN: Christelle Le Duff (USAP); Marion Lievre (Bobigny), Shannon Izar (Lille), Marjorie Mayans (Saint Orens), Camille Grassineau (Bordeaux); Sandrine Agricole (Rennes), Jennifer Troncy (Montpellier); Helene Ezanno (Lille), Gaelle Mignot (Montpellier) (capt), Elodie Portaries (Montpellier), Marine De Nadaï (Montpellier), Assa Koita (Bobigny), Koumiba Djossouvi (Montpellier), Coumba Diallo (Bobigny), Safi N’Diaye (Montpellier).

Replacements: Laetitia Salles (La Valette), Julie Duval (Ovalie Caennaise), Lise Arricastre (Lons), Sandra Rabier (Ovalie Caennaise), Laetitia Grand (Lons), Elodie Poublan (Montpellier), Jessy Tremouliere (Romagnat), Yanna Rivoalen (Lille).

IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/UCC/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht) 30, Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster).

Replacements: Stacey-Lea Kennedy (Cooke/Ulster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Kerrie-Ann Craddock (Saracens/Exile), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Amy Davis (Blackrock/Ulster), Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exile), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile).

Referee: Leah Berard (USA)
Assistant Referees: Guillaume Trieux, Didier Mastoumecq (both France)
Television Match Official: Eric Gonthier (France)

Pre-Match Quotes – Lynne Cantwell (Ireland Women): “France are undoubtedly the favourites and are going for the Grand Slam having beaten England 18-6. They haven’t conceded a try either.

“Still, if we stick together, retain our focus and keep working hard no matter what is thrown at us, while making use of the space that we do create then we can control this game.

“The game also marks a swansong to the Six Nations for some of us, a new experience for others.

“We can win in Pau. And if we do, regardless of the final standings, it will be a campaign we can all take pride in.

“But either way, this is a squad of ladies I will always be proud to be associated with.”

Pre-Match Links –

Ireland Women Win Historic Aviva Clash

Briggs: It’s Something I’ll Never Forget

Doyle: We’ll Relish France’s Physical Challenge

Match Facts –

– France Women need to win to secure their first Women’s Grand Slam and Championship since 2005

– France have lost just one of their last eight Championship fixtures: 15-10 to Ireland in Ashbourne last year, while they have not been defeated at home in the tournament since England visited Stade Charlety in Paris in March 2012

– The Ireland Women’s team must win by a margin of at least 20 points to get themselves ahead of France in the Six Nations table, but even then it may not be enough to secure a second successive title, as England, who play Italy on Sunday, also have a chance of winning the silverware

– Ireland’s only defeat in their last nine matches at this level was 17-10 to England at Twickenham in round 3

– Ireland have beaten France only twice in a dozen previous meetings in the Women’s Six Nations: in Ashbourne in 2009 and 2013

– Pau hosts only its second Women’s international: France beat Ireland there 8-7 in 2012

– Eight players are level at the top of the try scoring charts with three tries each, including Ireland’s Sophie Spence, who ran in a hat-trick against Scotland, Lynne Cantwell, Alison Miller and Heather O’Brien

– Ireland full-back Niamh Briggs (26 points from four conversions and six penalties) is the 2014 Championship’s joint top points scorer. France’s Sandrine Agricole has also amassed 26 points courtesy of a try, six conversions, two penalties and a drop goal

Recent Meetings –

2011: Women’s Six Nations: Ireland Women 12 France Women 14, Ashbourne RFC

2012: Women’s Six Nations: France Women 8 Ireland Women 7, Stade du Hameau, Pau

2013: Women’s Six Nations: Ireland Women 15 France Women 10, Ashbourne RFC