Ireland have pitched up in Paris for the second time in a number of weeks and with a much kinder weather forecast this time around, it is all systems go for Declan Kidney’s men as they look to stay in the Championship hunt by beating second-placed France.
2012 RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Sunday, March 4
FRANCE (2nd) v IRELAND (4th), Stade de France, 4pm local time/3pm Irish time (live RTÉ Two/BBC Two)
Team News: The Ireland team to play France in their refixed RBS 6 Nations Championship match in Paris on Sunday has been named.
The Ireland management have again named an unchanged team for the return trip to the French capital.
Cian Healy, Gordon D’Arcy, Rob Kearney and Sean O’Brien have all been named in the starting line-up having recovered from the various minor injuries picked up in the game against Italy.
Ronan O’Gara, who last weekend became Ireland’s most-capped player with 118 appearances, is named in the replacements.
Ireland captain Paul O’Connell will win his 85th cap as he leads the team out against France on Sunday.
“We took a look at how we played against Italy. We have an eight-day turnaround which has given us more time to freshen up,” commented head coach Declan Kidney.
“The errors that were made we can adjust and we’ll be better for having that 80 minutes (against Italy) under the belt.
“The lads who came on against Italy did exceptionally well and made a hugely positive impact, but I had to weigh that up against the lads who did a lot of the unseen work earlier in the game.”
Meanwhile, France head coach Philippe Saint-André has made two changes to the team the beat Scotland last time out, with Clément Poitrenaud and Julien Bonnaire pencilled in to start against Ireland.
With Maxime Médard ruled out with a knee injury, his Toulouse team-mate Poitrenaud will start in his place at full-back for les Bleus.
The other change in personnel from the 23-17 victory over the Scots sees Bonnaire return to the back row with Louise Picamoles dropping to the replacements bench.
In comparison to the side that was originally due to face Ireland last month, there are three alterations to the selection.
Poitrenaud and Morgan Parra come in for Médard and Dimitri Yachvili in the backs, while Bonnaire is the new inclusion in the forwards with Imanol Harinordoquy shifting to number 8.
Discussing the selection calls, Philippe Saint-André admitted that Bonnaire’s call-up will help the French combat Ireland’s strengths in the lineout.
“Ireland always play quick lineouts. We had problems with our lineouts at the start against Scotland, plus Bonnaire gives us great mobility,” he said.
“Louis was good in defence and he tidied up well, but he struggled with the attacking side of the game and knows he should have participated more. We want to see him running with the ball in his hand.”
FRANCE: Clément Poitrenaud (Toulouse); Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Aurélien Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne), Wesley Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), Julien Malzieu (Clermont Auvergne); François Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Morgan Parra (Clermont Auvergne); Jean-Baptiste Poux (Toulouse), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Français), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Pascal Papé (Stade Français), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse) (capt), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz Olympique).
Replacements: William Servat (Toulouse), Vincent Debaty (Clermont Auvergne), Lionel Nallet (Racing-Metro 92), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse), Julien Dupuy (Stade Français), Lionel Beauxis (Toulouse), Maxime Mermoz (Perpignan).
IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster); Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster), Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster).
Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Tom Court (Malone/Ulster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster), Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster).
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes, Andrew Small (both England)
Television Match Official: Geoff Warren (England)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): France to win: 1/3; Draw: 22/1; Ireland to win: 11/4
Pre-Match Quotes: Rory Best (Ireland) – “The record books say that us winning in Paris doesn’t happen very often, so from an Irish point of view it would be a massive result for us.
“We go there full of confidence, but we’re fully aware of how long it’s been since we’ve beaten them in Paris. It’s a massive challenge.
“But we have a massive opportunity to write ourselves into the history books. As competitive players you want to have these big moments in your career. Sunday evening can be one of those for us.
“Now we’re coming off the back of a good win and have scored five tries against Italy. You don’t often see Italy concede 40 points these days.
“It’s very encouraging to go to France with that in the bank. We’ve also had another few weeks together so we’re ironing out the wrinkles.
“But any time you to go Paris is an exciting time. We want the win that has been so elusive for Irish rugby for so long.”
Thierry Dusautoir (France) – “This is our first real test (of the Championship) when you see the level of Ireland at the moment. You run on to the pitch knowing you are going to play a really good team.
“We have had to prepare for this match twice and we have been able to witness their approaches to the ruck and tackling. These areas will demand a lot of us. We must be ultra-determined.
“With England and Wales to come, the fixture list in this year’s Six Nations shows that each match requires us to up our level of play.
“However, all I’m thinking of is this Sunday’s game as we have enough on our plates there to occupy our minds and our bodies.”
Pre-Match Links –
Recent Meetings –
2009: RBS 6 Nations: Ireland 30 France 21, Croke Park
2010: RBS 6 Nations: France 33 Ireland 10, Stade de France
2011: RBS 6 Nations: Ireland 22 France 25, Aviva Stadium; Rugby World Cup Warm-Up: France 19 Ireland 12, Stade Chaban Delmas; Rugby World Cup Warm-Up: Ireland 22 France 26, Aviva Stadium