Rugby Union: The Best Two Clash on Saturday - France v Ireland Preview

If you’re a rugby fan there’s only one place to be this Saturday, and that’s Paris at 16.45 for the international featuring France and Ireland, clearly the favourites to win the tournament.

After their convincing victories against Italy, beaten 37-10, and Wales, outplayed by 29-17, the French and Irish have set the standards and now the two meet in a Test which should be close, thrilling and dramatic.

France scored five tries against an improved Italian side, three by winger Gabin Villiere, and in Dublin, the Irish put four past the Welsh, two from winger Andrew Conway.

It’s 12 years since France won the Six Nations, so the result of Saturday’s international, described by Ireland coach, Andy Farrell, as “ the test of all tests”, will play a crucial role in determining the destination of the title.

What the Stats Show in the Build Up 

It’s widely agreed that both countries have the best teams and squads for several years and with potential match winners in each side, the quality on show is of the highest order.

Since the start of the Six Nations in 2000, France and Ireland have played each other 20 times, each nation has won nine games and two have been drawn.

The last time Ireland won in Paris was in 2018 by 15-13, and as Farrell prepares his squad for this Saturday, it’s against a background of consecutive victories for France, winners by 35-27 in 2020 and by 15-13 in 2021.

Overall, in Tests played in France, the French have won 34 and Ireland 12, but given the strength of the current squads, it doesn’t make too much sense to pay attention to past results.

Taking into account what’s at stake, the atmosphere in the Stade de France promises to be electric, the ground holds more than 80,000 and at the time of writing, no one knows what the conditions will be like, but what is for sure is that both sides will be ferociously competitive, and considering the importance of the contest, there’ll be much analysis of the decisions by Australian referee Angus Gardner.

Players to Watch Out for in Paris

French supporters adore the spectacle of international rugby and love seeing their side on the attack whether it’s through forwards such as Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand and Gregory Alldritt, or backs like Villiere, Antoine Dupont or Romain Ntamack.

As for Ireland, the power of the pack is typified by the class of Tadhg Beirne, Tadhg Furlong and Jack Conan, and in the back line you have star wingers Mack Hansen and Conway, centres Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose and skipper and fly half Johnny Sexton.