Rugby Union: Can Anyone Stop the French?

Increasingly, it looks like the safest of bets that France are going to win the Six Nations following their impressive performance against Scotland, beaten by 36-17 at Murrayfield.

Tries (6) by Willemse, Moefana, Fickou, Danty and two from Penaud showed what’s been clear from the start of the competition that France should not only win the tournament but have the ability and flair to claim a Grand Slam as well.

The future – France lead the table with 14 points with Ireland second on 11 – will become clearer during the next round of games, starting with France and Wales in Cardiff on Friday March 11th, kick off 8.00pm.

Although Wales put on a much-improved performance in the second half against England, it’s difficult to see them overcoming the French, even with home advantage in the Principality Stadium.

After Wales, France’s final match is at home against England in Paris, rather like the Welsh, are England really good enough to upset the odds and win there?

That confrontation is on Saturday March 19th at the end of which we’ll all know then just how France rate and what their chances are in the 2023 World Cup which is being held in their country.

The French coach, Fabien Galthie, is so fortunate to be able to select from the best group of players his country has produced for many years, and with all that talent at his disposal, surely, he can dominate the Six Nations for several competitions to come.

Ireland, too, are blessed with so many top-class players who in the main have been developed by the strong provinces, and as coach Andy Farrell prepares his team for their next game against England at Twickenham on Saturday March 12th, on current form, you’d put money on them winning, but in a close encounter.

Clearly, the challenge England will deliver will be far more powerful than the unfortunate Italians who were undone by laws that seemed unfair – Ireland’s win by 57-6 during which they scored nine tries – Carbery, Gibson-Park, two by Lowry, O’Mahony, two from Lowe, Baird and Treadwell – emphasised just how powerful the Irish are, but they played against opponents down to 13 for three quarters of the game and who were reduced to 12 for the final five minutes.

Ireland, though, will face tougher opposition at Twickenham, and in their last match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on the final day of the Six Nations – Saturday March 19th – against Scotland who will be battling against the odds.

England with games to come against Ireland and France have so far not produced anything outstanding to suggest they are going to be a serious threat in the World Cup next year, but coach Eddie Jones rightly points out that they are still in with a chance of winning the Six Nations.

Currently, third on 10 points, after beating Wales 23-19 and Italy 33-0, England’s team is developing with several new players, such as Dombrandt, Randall and Steward, and their star, fly half Marcus Smith.

It may be too early to dismiss England’s prospects, after all, they can improve substantially in the period before they take on Ireland and France, but you get the impression that France and Ireland are so much better.

The tournament has in the three games played has been predictable – France and Ireland are the best – but we have not had any shock results, so, can Wales beat France in Cardiff, and can England topple France in Paris?

Six Nations Matches Remaining:

Friday March 11th –  Wales v France – kick off 8.00pm (Cardiff)

Saturday March 12th – Italy v Scotland – 2.15pm (Rome)

Saturday March 12th – England v Ireland – 4.45pm (Twickenham)

Saturday March 19th – Wales v Italy – 2.15pm (Cardiff)

Saturday March 19th – Ireland v Scotland – 4.45pm (Dublin)

Saturday March 19th – France v England – 8.00pm (Paris)