There is going to be no grand slam for Ireland this year. They probably won’t win the Six Nations either. France have shown Ireland they are not at the top table in international rugby. These are all things I learned after Irelands’ defeat in the Stade de France last weekend.
It had started out so promisingly for this Irish side, they destroyed Wales like never before, the new additions seemed tailor made for the side, and it looked like Andy Farrells style of play was bearing fruit.
The new additions to the side do still look quite impressive, with Mack Hansen looking particularly impressive in both games and going over with a sublime try in the game against France. It is still left to be seen if this style of play will work for Ireland or they have to look for something else.
What is clear is that France made it incredibly uncomfortable for the Irish side and looked like they were going to make a turnover with every ruck. They were bigger, better, and smarter than an Irish side that made Wales feel the same way the weekend before.
It may seem like some unfair criticism given the fact that Ireland cut the deficit to 3 points in the second half and kept it a one score game for nearly the entirety of the second half, it just felt like such a come down from the weekend before.
France are an interesting team to come up against for several reasons, they seem, in my eyes, to be somewhat a surprise package in the way that you’re not sure if they will be a disaster or they will be the best team in the world.
They have not won the Six Nations in the last decade, in which time Ireland have won it three times. They are the better team, and it was just a matter of time until they win it again, but in saying that, nothing is guaranteed, and they could lose all their remaining games, but winning it all seems more likely.
The biggest question that came out of this games is what will we do without Johnny Sexton? He’s 36 now and still the best fly-half Ireland have. Without Sexton this team does not look the same and won’t look the same when he’s gone. There are more problems than just this in the side, but if the rest of the campaign can be considered a success they surely will be swept under the rug.