France vs Ireland: The Bride in Waiting May Need Another Year to Marry

Banner featuring the logo of the Rugby Six Nations tournament next to the flags of France and Ireland
TournamentSix Nations
TimetableSaturday 12th of February at 16:45 GMT
PredictionIreland to Win
OddsFind out the latest odds
Ireland to Win
The best odds
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Two favourites for the Guinness Six Nations 2022, France and Ireland, will come head to head at the Stade de France, Paris on Saturday, 12th of February. With two very different preparation matches in week one, against Italy and Wales respectively, this is shaping up to be a big contest that could well turn the tide for either side in their pursuit of the title. A lot of pundits and betting sites have France, the domineering rival of the 100-test history between the two (58 wins), as the winner of this one. I'm not so sure. Besides the France v Ireland odds of above, let's have a look at some of the key factors, as my prediction may be something of a surprise to French and Irish fans alike.


Overview of France

France are in strong form right now, currently ranking 5th in world rugby and holding a commanding position in European rugby. After a 15-13 win over Ireland in the 2021 iteration of the competition, Les Blues will be looking to double their glory this year. Can they reap the W in front of their home crowd? Let's take a look at what weapons they have in their arsenal.

The Strength of the French Head Coach

France's Head Coach is Fabien Galthie, whose current results speak for themselves. An ex-player who loved the position of scrum half, he also had the opportunity of being the captain for the French national side. After winning the Top 14 competition, he moved away from coaching to become a TV and radio presenter. He soon realised that his destiny lay in coaching rugby, in 2008, and then pursued various coaching roles with Argentina, Montopellier, and Toulon. In 2019, he joined France as the Assistant Coach, and took over as Head Coach the year after. Given how France have played since the start of his tenure in the top job, it's no wonder that many pundits can see France doing the business on Saturday.

The Strength of the French Captain

The current captain is Charles Ollivon, who took over from Guilhem Guirado. It's fair to say that he warmed to the captain's role, as he scored two tries against England in his debut as the French frontman. He is a flanker, and is currently playing for Toulon in the French Top 14. He has spent quite some time on the sidelines due to injury, but France will be elated to see him back in fighting form to take on the Irish.

The Best of the French Squad: Ones to Watch

France have a fantastic depth of players to choose from, considering how many players come from Top-14 sides. Let's look at some of the outstanding stars.

PlayerPositionCaps for FranceClub TeamStar Qualities
Antoine DupontScrum-half35Toulouse
  • Part of Top-14-winning side, Toulouse, in 2020-21 and 2018-19
  • Crowned World Rugby Men's Player of the Year 2021
  • Scored 36 points in the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship
Romain NtamackFly-half23Toulouse
  • Awarded World Breakthrough Player of the Year 2019
  • 144 points in 23 tests for France
  • Dynamic playmaker
Melvyn JaminetFull-back3Perpignan
  • Called up to the French national side before playing a game in the Top-14
  • Has held on to the French 15 shirt since his debut
  • Considered a top find for 2021

The Strength of the French 16th Man

The French watching their side play at home? It's a no-brainer that the crowd will be electric at the Stade de France on Saturday - or at least more so than the closed-door variants rugby fans have been used to in recent years. There are still some Covid restrictions in place, but if anybody can make up for a lack of numbers in the crowd because of the pandemic, it will be the French. There will be an amazing atmosphere, and the French will be in the throes of passion, as per usual, to carry their team to the end.

Overview of Ireland

The French may be considered the 5th best in the world right now, but the Irish are actually 4th. Some may argue the validity of their ranking, given constant fluctuations in the system, but I feel there is a hint in this that most are missing. Let's take a look at the strength of the Irish set-up and why I think they will be putting up a fight on away turf.

The Strength of the Irish Head Coach

The Irish Head Coach is the masterful Andy Farrell. He has held coaching roles in both rugby codes - most notably at England, The British and Irish Lions, Saracens, and Munster. A lot of critics like to attest that he has prospered because of previous Head Coach, Joe Schmidt, but I feel that Farrell has come into his own; his results certainly speak for themselves. Since losing to France in last year's Six Nations, he has gone on to win eight matches in a row with Ireland.

The Strength of the Irish Captain

Fly-half Jonathan Sexton is a veteran in the game, but he is missing match fitness, having not played rugby since November. The same can be said for other key players in the Irish squad. Whether the captain will be deemed good to go by Andy Farrell and the physios remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: he will not be far away, nurturing and mentoring the Irish in their pursuit of Six Nations glory.

The Best of the Irish Squad: Ones to Watch

Not to be outdone by France, Ireland have also put together an impressive squad. Let's look at some of the key faces in the Irish set-up.

PlayerPositionCaps for IrelandClub TeamStar Qualities
Tadhg FurlongProp52Leinster
  • Voted best tight-head prop in the world in 2021
  • Excellent decision-making skills
  • Runs at defenders, but great at keeping the ball alive
Bundee AkiCentre33Connacht
  • Won titles for the Chiefs in Super Rugby and Connact in the Pro 12
  • 30 points in 33 tests for Ireland
  • Global rugby experience provides a greater appreciation of tactics
Caelan DorisFlanker/Number 84Connacht
  • Starring role against Japan, New Zealand, and Argentina in the 2021 Autumn Internationals
  • 10 points in 4 tests for Ireland
  • Voted Player of the Month in December 2021

The Strength of the Irish 16th Man

There may not be a lot of travelling fans for this big game, so the Irish may not be able to drum up the support they like. Nevertheless, the green shirts in the stadium will be screaming their team over the line all they can. French support may be the loudest at the Stade de France, but you can be sure that every point clawed by Ireland is going to be celebrated big time!

Our Overall France vs Ireland Match Prediction Winner

Fans and pundits think France have this - home turf, the crowd, and last year's win all seemingly being signs of augury. I think there's going to be a sting in the tail for people of that opinion.

The Irish have built a spectacular run of form recently, and Farrell's men will want to dish out the pain as revenge for last year. Maybe I may seem like I'm going against the grain, but I think France are in the same position as last year: they are the bridesmaid, still waiting to be the bridge. I believe this will be the match that highlights that. I think Andy Farrell will have a big smile, come 80 minutes.

Ireland to Win