Eire v France is a heavyweight conflict of Six Nations types to be relished | Six Nations 2023

Conor Murray of Ireland receives the ball during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland in Cardiff

The highest two groups on the planet lock horns in Dublin on Saturday and a heavyweight conflict akin to this in any sport is trigger to have fun. What I like about this match-up is that Eire and France are finally attempting to attain the identical factor however go about it in very alternative ways.

Eire made a wide ranging begin towards Wales and given their home constructions and the way comparable they’re in model and in personnel to Leinster, they have a tendency to hit the bottom operating within the Six Nations. At instances towards Wales, you simply needed to sit again and applaud the talent and accuracy.

When Eire are at their greatest they dominate possession; they’re an excellent tactical attacking group, dynamic and intensely environment friendly with the ball. It appears free and fluid however there’s a actual understanding of when to play and when to not play. Final weekend there was an avalanche of form, choices, effectivity, ruck velocity and execution and Wales couldn’t reside with it. In consequence they infringed, which created entries for Eire and so they have been transformed into factors.

There’s such a transparent understanding of the place the gamers must be and what they should do. It isn’t depending on place: if you happen to’re first to the ruck you play scrum-half whatever the quantity in your again. The identical goes in case you are first not far away – Johnny Sexton apart – and since everyone seems to be so snug fulfilling completely different roles, the opposition are put underneath large strain.

I anxious for them when Jamison Gibson-Park pulled out simply earlier than the Wales match as a result of he generates a lot tempo. I questioned if we’d see extra set piece to set piece however they have been completely unaffected, Conor Murray crammed the void seamlessly and that may be a large praise to the framework Eire have constructed.

France’s USP is their physicality and you’ll measure that on the scales. After we discuss physicality we imply it as a approach for France’s gamers to interrupt a sort out or to get fast ruck ball. They initially use their blunt weapons after which let their pretty footballers take over. Eire have very smart gamers and a form that permits them to generate fast ruck ball. Whether or not it’s by their physicality or their form, that’s what I imply once I say France and Eire are successfully attempting to attain the identical factor. Eire’s capability to create a fluency, rucks for fast ball’s sake, which in flip provides them choices, might be the place they’ve the sting.

Conor Murray of Ireland receives the ball during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland in Cardiff
Conor Murray impressed in Eire’s dominant efficiency towards Wales. {Photograph}: Michael Steele/Getty Pictures

That stated, final 12 months France gained the competition as a result of Eire couldn’t reside with their physicality and it has been the one query mark over Andy Farrell’s facet on this World Cup cycle. The identical might be stated for Leinster, as La Rochelle so brutally demonstrated in final season’s Champions Cup remaining. They haven’t been in a position to compete when there’s a greater canine within the battle.

Extra vital on Saturday although, shall be work fee. France’s large penalty rely towards Italy was an anomaly however work fee is the place Eire could possibly get the higher hand. I don’t see Eire’s gamers on the deck for lengthy. The best way they regenerate themselves and get themselves again into the sport, again on their toes within the line is outstanding. Uini Atonio is a big participant for France, he’s a person mountain however spends too lengthy on the ground. It’s onerous to defend towards Eire with 15 males however when you have somebody on the ground taking a breather, even for 2 or three seconds, at this degree it’s the distinction between being No 1 and No 2 on the planet. We’re speaking about need and need and work fee, and I noticed on various events towards Italy he stayed on the ground for too lengthy.

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Italy had been a group the place you would experiment or attempt issues – they aren’t any extra. France’s end result towards Italy has finished England a large favour. If France had gained by 30 the strain would have been on England to win by 30. However Italy misplaced to the grand slam champions by 5 factors. If England win by 5 to 10 factors, Steve Borthwick is effectively inside his rights to place that end result into the context of final week. The expectation on England was once to get the end result and produce a efficiency towards Italy. Now, towards an Italian facet who’ve the respect of the rugby world, you simply take the end result.

England shall be disillusioned to get their new period off to a dropping begin however even had they gained towards Scotland, there could be issues to work on, simply as there are issues to provide trigger for optimism. I just like the number of Jack Willis as a result of Italy will at all times offer you alternatives of their half and if England have the identical territory and possession stats they need to really feel in management for big elements of the sport and that’s all you may ask for.

Scotland can not anticipate to beat Wales with the identical territory and possession as towards England. Sure, they have been implausible on the day, absolutely deserved winners however they are going to be conscious that Wales shall be a lot better after a primary hit-out underneath Warren Gatland and they are going to be upping the ante. Scotland have made all the best noises about backing up their win towards England however they’ve a dismal file towards Wales. They’ve gained solely 4 instances prior to now 20 years and Gatland has an 11 and 0 file towards Scotland. It’s a fascinating match as a result of defeat for both facet will go away scars that may take some time to heal.