Ireland v France

The French have arrived in Dublin with Ireland needing a win to go top, at least until tomorrow

Patrick Madden Sat, Feb 25
LIVE: Ireland v France

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  • 15:56

    Good afternoon. Patrick Madden will be along shortly to take you through all of the action from Dublin 4. He's just rounding off his blog on Scotland's clash with Wales which you can read here. It's been a busy day for him so far and let's hope it gets busier from an Irish point of view.

    In the meantime you can read Gerry Thornley's preview here, in which the two lineups are included.

    You can also get a closer look at the Irish starting XV here with our interactive player profiles.

  • 16:26


    How are the nerves?

  • 16:32


    IRELAND:  R Kearney; K Earls, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (capt), T Furlong, D Ryan, D Toner, CJ Stander, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.  Replacements:  N Scannell, C Healy, J Ryan, I Henderson, P O’Mahony, K Marmion, P Jackson, A Trimble.

    FRANCE:  Scott Spedding; Yoann Huget, Remi Lamerat, Gael Fickou, Noa Nakaitaci; Camille Lopez, Baptiste Serin; Curil Baille, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Rabah Slimani, Sebastien Vahaamahina; Yoann Maestri; Bernard Le Roux, Kevin Gourdon, Louis Picamoles.  Replacements:  Christopher Tolofua, Uini Atonio, Eddy Ben Arous, Julien Le Devedec, Charles Ollivon, Maxime Machenaud, Henry Chavancy, Djibril Camara.

  • 16:37

    It can't be overstated how big today is for Ireland. A win and the Championship is still within grasp - four scores and a win, even more so.

    France have been rejuvenated under Guy Noves. Granted, they have been erratic, but they have begun to combine their gallic flair of old with the bruising style we have become more accustomed to in recent years.

    Ireland will be braced for a huge physical challenge at the Aviva but it is one they have met and raised before. Today sees the return of the talismanic Johnny Sexton, and if he can survive unscathed Joe Schmidt's side will be confident of getting a result this evening.  

  • 16:39
    Any thoughts on today's game? Following from an exotic location? Get in touch!
  • 16:40
    A grey day in Dublin has turned into a drizzly one. This could be a war.
  • 16:42
    The teams are out at the Aviva.
  • 16:45
    Matthew Lewis Tuning in from the rainforest in Ivindo National Park in Gabon, West Africa. Nine French tourists just arrived, have the tricolour around the shoulders! #AllezLesVerts
  • 16:45
    As you do.
  • 16:46
    Apparently nine Scottish players were too cronked to make it to the after match dinner in Paris last week. Gulp.
  • 16:47
    La Marseillaise rings out around the Aviva, there's plenty of French in.
  • 16:50

    Anthems done.

    Here we go.

  • 16:52

    Nigel Owens the man with the whistle.

    Lopez has the ball in hand, and we're off!

  • 16:53
    1 min: Lopez goes short with the kick and it looks like O'Brien knocked it on but he gets the benfit of the doubt. Good quick start from Ireland and Murray boxkicks for Earls to challenge, Fickou sweeping up the loose ball. France move it right and Lamerat tries to steamroller Zebo.
  • 16:55
    2 min: Lovely stuff from France, moving it left and showing slick hands with Fickou, Huget and Picamoles combining. It's an electric opening few minutes and eventually we get a break in play as Lopez can't gather a wild pass from Serin.
  • 16:57
    3 min: First battle at the scrum and Ireland get it out quickly, Heaslip finding Murray who feeds Sexton who slaloms inside and gets Ireland up to halfway. Ringrose and then O'Brien make good carries and Ireland are on the French 10. Sexton then goes aerial with Henshaw challenging and Serin sweeping up before France clear into touch on the right.
  • 16:58
    5 min: Quick lineout ball and Ireland look to build in the French half, but after a few phases Gourdon forces an excellent turnover. France looking to attack at every opportunity and they counter through Fickou. Heaslip tackles well but then Earls is penalised and Lopez finds a good touch with the penalty.
  • 17:00
    7 min: Guirado finds his man and France set the maul. Ruck is called and France keep it in the tight but Le Roux knocks on. Ireland are actually awarded a penalty and Sexton finds touch inside the French 10.
  • 17:02
    8 min: Ireland make a hash of the planned lineout move but retain the ball on the halfway. The ball goes loose but Kearney seizes on it and moves back infield. Sexton tries to switch the play but his kick in behind Huget is overcooked. Allez Les Bleus rings out around the Aviva.
  • 17:02
  • 17:05

    10 min: Ringrose looks to have made a good read in midfield but Fickou wriggles free and makes a good carry before offloading to Spedding. France getting quick ball and Serin picks before selling Kearney and sniping into the Irish 22. Ireland scramble back but France have a penalty. This is breathless.

    Lopez will go for goal from the edge of the 22. He slots a straightforward kick.


  • 17:06
    12 min: France have a knock-on advantage form the restart and look to move it. Lopoez thinks about the kick but opts to keep it in hands and there's a big collision between Guirado and Ringrose. The ball comes for Spedding who clears up to halfway.
  • 17:08
    14 min: Ireland have the ball around the French 10 but the visitors are slowing it down well, with Ringrose running into the blue wall a few times. O'Brien makes a carry but the ball spills out and France clear long. Zebo is covering trying to stop the ball from finding touch but he plays the ball ingoal - France five-metre scrum.
  • 17:09
    15 min: Great shunt from the French pack and they win a scrum penalty - they'll go for another.
  • 17:09
  • 17:10
    16 min: Ireland solid second time round - Picmaoles picks and tries to force his way over. France turning the screw and they have a penalty coming for offside.  
  • 17:13

    17 min: France think they've scored. It's a free play for France and Lopez kicks crossfield to Huget. The ball is spilled backwards out of the tackle and Fickou scoops it up and pops to Lamerat who arcs round to dive over. However Owens checks with the TMO and replays show Fickou just knocked on.

    Back for the penalty.  

  • 17:13

    France opt against another scrum and go for points.

    Lopez makes no mistake with the kick, good start from the visitors.


  • 17:13
  • 17:14
    19 min: The ball is back to Spedding to clear but he moves back onto his left and passes to Lopez who finds a good touch on the left.
  • 17:14
  • 17:16
    20 min: Ireland maul from the lineout and it grinds infield. Ireland have men over on the right and Sexton loops and feeds Earls and then Heaslip. Better from Ireland, Ringrose making a little dart but just as Ireland are on the front foot France turn it over and Spedding clears. Great work from Lamerat over the ball.
  • 17:18
    21 min: Better Irish lineout and they maul again. Eventually they use it with an advantage coming and Murray dummies and scampers up towards the French 22. Play is stopped after a huge hit on Stander and it's brought back for the penalty, which Sexton sticks into the corner.
  • 17:19
    22 min: Great chance for Ireland but the ball goes forward when they look to maul and France are reprieved.
  • 17:20
    23 min: The scrum is a mess but France earn another penalty. They are certainly a different proposition up front compared to Scotland and Italy.
  • 17:20
  • 17:21
    24 min: Poor French lineout and it's knocked forward. Irish possession in midfield.
  • 17:22
    25 min: Ireland move it deep and Kearney joins the attack only to be slammed by Guirado. Ireland are going backwards and Sexton puts a clever kick in behind Nakaitaci.
  • 17:23
    26 min: Quick lineout ball for France and then Picamoles carries well across the French 22. Serin then clears well up towards halfway.
  • 17:25
    27 min: Good Ireland maul and they heave their way up to the French 10. Ireland then use it and carve France open with an excellent loop between Sexton and Ringrose. Sexton then kicks ahead and it won't break for Earls but Huget can only touch down ingoal. Ireland five-metre scrum and a big chance.
  • 17:26
    28 min: Big Irish scrum. Penalty. They set it again.
  • 17:26
    TRY IRELAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 17:28

    Another solid Irish scrum but France dig in. Murray uses it and finds Henshaw on a crash ball but he's just held up. Murray then picks and goes himself and is held up, but wriggles his way over at the second time of asking.

    Sexton converts. Ireland ahead.


  • 17:30
    32 min: France back on the attack with the electric Fickou getting them up to the 22. France up to 10 phases on the 10-metre but Ireland defending well. Brilliant work on the deck from O'Brien sees Ireland win a penalty which Sexton sends for a good touch.
  • 17:33
    34 min: This is much more like it, Ireland getting quick, front foot ball and working their way into the France 22 with a penaly advantage. Zebo darts inside on an excellent line and then Murray picks and Ireland are deep in the French 22. Eventually Toner is met by a big hit from Vahaamahina and we'll go back for the penalty.
  • 17:34
    35 min: The penalty is very kickable but with nobody switched on Sexton takes a quick tap and finds Heaslip and then Earls who get Ireland up to the French five. Excellent scrambling defence from France but they concede another penalty - Sexton sticks it into the corner.
  • 17:35
    36 min: Ireland set the maul from the lineout and France bring it down. Another penalty and the French are on their last warning. Sexton goes for the corner again.
  • 17:37
    37 min: Best to Toner and Ireland maul again - but the French counter is brilliant and they celebrate the turnover like a score. Great work from Picamoles and Vaamahina in particular. Four penalties, no score, and France still have 15 men. Wasted chance.
  • 17:38
    39 min: Scruffy passage from a French lineout and the ball squirts out of play. Ireland with have a lineout, last play of the half.
  • 17:39
    40 min: Another Irish maul on halfway. They move it left and Sexton and Ringrose use the loop again - this time Ringrose taking an offload from his number 10 and Ireland are up to the 22. Quick ball and Ringrose and then Stander get Ireland deep inside the 22.
  • 17:40
    41 min: Murray picks and snipes and is just scragged with no support. Ireland hammering away, Stander absolutely destroying one tackler, but eventually there's a knock on and France survive.
  • 17:40
  • 17:55
    The teams are back out in Dublin. Buckle up.
  • 17:57
    Sexton gets us back underway!
  • 17:58
    41 min: Ireland try to make life difficult for France from the restart but after a couple of slow phases Spedding clears to halfway.
  • 18:00
    42 min: Another Ireland maul and then Sexton sends a high kick which Spedding spills. Stander tries a crossfield kick meaning the advantage is gone but they will have a lineout on the 22.
  • 18:01
    43 min: The lineout goes long but Ireland retain it and look to pick and go through the middle but McGrath runs into Heaslip and France have a penalty for obstruction.
  • 18:02

    44 min: Messy scrum but Ireland win a penalty after Cerin holds Murray back off the ball.

    This is an easy chance for Sexton, and he makes no mistake.


  • 18:03
    46 min: Toner picks the restart out of the air with aplomb but he falls into touch.
  • 18:06
    47 min: France building on the edge of the 22 with a couple of big tackles preventing half breaks. Good Irish defence though, lightning linespeed and slowing the ball down well. Nakaitaci tries to whip a big one left but gets it horribly wrong and Ireland have a scrum centre-field inside their 10.
  • 18:06
    48 min: Pressure on the Irish scrum but Heaslip gets it away to Murray who grubbers a kick for a very good touch.
  • 18:09

    49 min: Earls fields a Serin boxkick and counters well, getting Ireland inside the French 10. YES JOHNNY! The ball is dropped back to Sexton and he nails a brilliant dropkick out of nowhere. Plenty of fist-pumps after that.


  • 18:10
    French numbers 17, 18 and 19 are coming off the bench. As you can probably guess they're all big lads.
  • 18:10
    Rob Kearney limping off for Ireland, Trimble on. Presumably Zebo will switch to 15.
  • 18:11
  • 18:12
    51 min: Sexton kicks high and Spedding spills it again. Ringrose pounces but Henshaw can't quite run onto his offload. Irish scrum, central and just outside of the 22.
  • 18:15

    52 min: The scrum is reset - Ireland have a penalty. It's a free play but it doesn't last long and Sexton will go for goal.

    Another fairly straightforward effort for Sexton, and he increases Ireland's lead to 10.


  • 18:16
    55 min: Brilliant box kick from Murray, from inside his 22 and into touch inside the French 10.
  • 18:18

    56 min: Ireland working the loop again in midfield - this time through hooker Best.  

    Absolutely stunning rugby from Ireland. Sexton finding Zebo, who comes back inside for Murray - then back out to Zebo who offloads to Heaslip who finds Stander. Stander gets hauled down but they are in the ascendancy deep in the French 22.

  • 18:19
    57 min: 15 Irish phases, Ireland hammering away just shy of the French five.
  • 18:22
    58 min: Eventually a mammoth, stunning passage of play comes to an end with a McGrath knock on. That's scooped up by Spedding and he breaks clear and kicks ahead. He's checked by Zebo - accidentally - and Ireland recover. But then France turn it over and Serin makes another sniping break. Eventually Ireland scramble back and everyone takes a much needed breather.
  • 18:22
  • 18:25
    60 min: Ireland win their scrum just outside the 22 and first receiver Henshaw makes a good carry. France then get pinged for not rolling away and Sexton finds a good touch inside the French 10. Sexton was down getting treatment before but looks fine now.
  • 18:28
    61 min: Quick ball and Henshaw rumbles through the middle. Murray then tries an ambitous kick in behind and gets a perfect bounce, the ball just sneaking into touch. France with a five-metre scrum to defend - but Ireland manage to haul the maul out. Huge work from the Irish pack.
  • 18:30
    63 min: Loose from Ireland and France turn it over before moving it wide and making ground through Nakaitaci. France keep it in hand and play their way up to halfway. The ball goes loose but Owens rules it went backwards but then good work from Sexton sees Ireland turn it over. Ireland then kick it back to France who again counter through Nakaitaci. This is getting ridiculously stretched.
  • 18:33
    65 min: France just about retaining the ball in their usual slapdash manner before Owens asks to check something with the TMO - Atonio pinged for a neck roll on O'Brien. Good touchfinder from Sexton, getting Ireland up to the 10.
  • 18:34
    66 min: Another Irish maul infield and then Stander peels off and carries. O'Brien then has a rumble but is pinged for holding on.
  • 18:34
    O'Brien going off for a HIA - Peter O'Mahony back in an Ireland shirt.
  • 18:36

    68 min: Probing French play and Fickou puts a good kick in behind which Trimble shephards out.

    Jackson coming on for Sexton, who has been brillinat on his comeback.

  • 18:36
    69 min: Solid Irish lineout and another good clearing boxkick from Murray.
  • 18:36
  • 18:38
    70 min: Toner gets a hand on the French lineout and Healsip completes the steal. France have the ball back and Machenaud puts a good kick in behind. Again, Ireland secure their lineout ball and again, Murray finds a good touch.
  • 18:41

    72 min: Arous held up by Toner in the tackle but France somehow retain it. Machenaud shows and goes and bursts into the 22 - France have a penalty advantage.  

    Lopez will go for goal, and he slots it. France back within a score.


  • 18:44

    74 min: Good kickchase from ireland and Machenaud can only clear as far as the 22. Ireland maul again from the lineout and grind their way into the 22. Murray then uses it and Henshaw makes a big carry. Healy then picks and goes and Ireland are awarded a penalty for a Picamoles infringement!

    Chance for Jackson to put this to bed, nails it!


  • 18:47

    77 min: Broken field ball for Ireland and Henshaw kicks well up the left. It's kicked back and Ireland in possession on the French 10-metre. France are penalised for coming in at the side and Jackson kicks into the corner.

    Murray named man of the match.

  • 18:48
    78 min: Ireland inside the French 22 and looking after the ball well. Not long left.
  • 18:49
    79 min: After a long spell of possession Zebo kicks in behind and Huget can only run it into touch on the cover. Last play.
  • 18:49
    80 min: The lineout is overcooked but Earls pounces on the loose ball. Ireland going for one last score.
  • 18:50
  • 19:05

    Ireland's win puts them top of the Six Nations table, although with England playing Italy at Twickenham tomorrow it's likely to be for one night only.

    You can see the table HERE.

  • 19:15
  • 19:36
  • 19:38

    Right then, thanks for joining today as Ireland got the job done efficiently - Gerry Thornley's match report from Dublin will be live shortly.

    There's another week break for Joe Schmidt's side before a Friday night showdown with Wales under the Cardiff lights.

    We'll be bringing you all the action from England against Italy tomorrow so tune in again.