French media's opinion of this Ireland team becomes clear as vital clash nears
They must reckon we still have Mick Galwey and Peter Clohessy in the squad.
The days of Ireland huffing, swinging, rucking and wheezing their way to a noble defeat to France are long behind us. Someone needs to give the French media heads a refresher on the past decade of Six Nations and World Cup rugby.
Notwithstanding a flurry of three wins out four matches, around the turn of the century, France had the wood over Ireland for 40 years. The tide started to turn in 2012 and 2013 with two draws then came six Ireland wins, in seven matches, all the way up to 2019. Nestled in there were victories in Paris (2014 and 2018) on the way to two Six Nations titles.
Eddie O'Sullivan and Warren Gatland both had tastes of victory over France, with Declan Kidney's sole win coming en-route to the 2009 Grand Slam. It was Joe Schmidt that completely flipped the script on Les Bleus. Ireland had their Six Nations number and beat them in an all-out war in the 2015 World Cup.
Andy Farrell has yet to beat France as Ireland head coach (his record is 0-3) so that could explain, in part, why some in their media ranks do not rate us as highly as other nations.
French media preview Ireland vs. France
Over on Rugbyrama, there is a debate on who deserves to be called favourites for Saturday's Six Nations clash, with a reminder that France were the last side [in 2021] to beat Ireland in Dublin.
There is also a 'Five reasons' piece on why last year's champions can beat Andy Farrell's side at the Aviva Stadium. The French media are leaning on Farrell not being able to solve France yet, Ireland's injuries and France being able to pull out wins even when they are underperforming.
Another piece, taken from their 'Third Half' show, relies on that old trope about Ireland - that they are fighters and sloggers that do better when the conditions are poor. The headline reads:
'Without rain, France has a 40% chance of winning. With rain, 15%'
Two things jump out here. First, that Ireland will be relying on inclement conditions to have a better chance of beating France. This is dismissive of the attacking threats that this Ireland team possess. They were top try-scorers by a distance in last season's Six Nations and shredded the All Blacks defence in Dunedin and Wellington.
Ireland can roll their sleeves up and win through tough, physical rugby - see the November victories over Australia and South Africa - but they showed against Wales how ruthless they can be in scoring positions when they get motoring.
Second, how the French reporters still side with Ireland despite their team winning last year's Grand Slam and being on a 13-match victory streak. A listener to the live stream of the show had asked for percentage chances of beating Ireland with and without rain. If it rains, they do not fancy Les Bleus' chances. If it is clear, they reckon France are in the fight.
Our course, there is always some form of recency and local bias. Those predictions came after France had struggled to overcome Italy, in Rome. Over in Ireland, meanwhile, a Virgin Media poll had Ireland getting 76% of the vote when viewers were asked who would emerge with the title.
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