Former Ireland and Ulster player Stephen Ferris has claimed that Ireland’s dominant victory over France in Marseille last weekend will have scared the rest of the teams in the Six Nations.
Ireland played France and were looking to overcome their defeat at the Rugby World Cup in the south of France. They overcame their Rugby World Cup defeat in spectacular fashion by winning 17-38 in the opening game of the 2024 Six Nations.
Tries from Jamison-Gibson Park, Tadhg Beirne, Dan Sheehan, Ronan Kelleher, and Calvin Nash ensured that the defence of the 2023 Grand Slam is still on the cards.
Ireland will now play Italy tomorrow in Dublin, Wales in Dublin, Scotland in Dublin on the last day, and England in Twickenham in their second-last game.
A second Grand Slam narrative is already growing, and it would take a brave Irish pessimist to bet against it.
Ferris, who played 35 times for Ireland between 2006 and 2012, believes that Ireland’s commanding performance against France in their own backyard will scare the likes of Italy, England, Scotland, and Wales for the rest of the rugby tournament.
“[They] completely played France off the park in Marseille, and it felt like they picked up where they’d left off at periods during that Rugby World Cup last year,” the Ulster player said to RTÉ 2fm’s Game On.
“It’s brilliant to see, really refreshing. Everyone thought there was going to be a bit of a stumble with personnel changes: big Joe McCarthy coming in, Calvin Nash, and Jack Crowley. I’m sure there were a lot of nerves in the build-up to the week.
“But they went out, they performed, and Peter O’Mahony led the team really well. Some of the decisions that were made, especially with the ball in hand, were fascinating to watch.
“Massive congratulations, and it sends a bit of a fright to the other teams in the championship.”
Excellent control from McCarthy and Doris at the front of this maul to peel left and slip off 4 French defenders.
— EK Rugby Analysis (@ek_rugby) February 2, 2024
Ireland’s lineout was much criticised during the Rugby World Cup, and this was one of the main issues that many wanted to see rectified going into the Six Nations. Ireland’s lineout was like chalk and cheese in Marseille.
During the French game, there was a 100% success rate coming off 13 throws, all 13 of which were “clean,” according to Opta stats.
Ireland scored five tries in the Orange Velodrome on Friday night, and all five scores at the line could be traced back to a clean lineout ball from Ireland. France, on the other hand, struggled in that aspect of the game and never got going, and Ferris criticised that aspect of the match.
“Their set piece was very poor; their attack was pretty much non-existent,” he added.
“I think the game was summed up with their maul defence in the last 10 minutes, the way they capitulated and Ireland ran over.
“Ireland ran out with an extremely huge and thoroughly deserved victory.
“France will be licking their wounds, absolutely licking their wounds, after putting in an effort like that.”
Ireland’s game against Italy takes place at 3 p.m. tomorrow.