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6 Nations

France – The Blind Leading The Blind

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Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images

“We can do this. But do we work on it? No.” The telling words of Morgan Parra after France’s humiliation at Twickenham. The veteran halfback questioned the preparations of the French team after their disastrous performance against England. “I think that we are capable of doing what the English do, but are we working on this during training? I think we don’t work on it enough, even not at all”.

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Parra has not made the 23 for this weekend’s game against Scotland, for what Jacques Brunel calls “sporting reasons”, so read into that what you will. Camille Lopez is in the same boat; after the game, he acknowledged that the French players were accountable, but he said I think it is not just us, and we are not alone in this disaster”. After watching the Wales game, you would’ve thought that French rugby couldn’t get much more disorganised, but when you hear stories of poor Romain Ntamack being sent on to the pitch not even knowing what position he was to play, there really must be something rotten in the state of France.

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Selection policy is something French coaches generally have difficulty with. Whether its the pressure or expectation of the job, who knows, but most of the time its absolutely mystifying. This weekend’s backline is the most sensible one to be seen on a French teamsheet in quite a while, compared to last week’s rabble of four centres and a wing as the outside backs. Thomas Ramos is wearing the 15 jersey for the weekend. Ramos made his debut in Twickenham, limiting the damage in the second half to fourteen points, compared to 30 points in the first half.

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France at home are a different beast to the shower of chancers that turned up to play England game. Last year it took a Hail Mary moment from King Johnny for Ireland to get over the line in Paris, and they came absolutely flying out of the blocks against Wales. Two early tries from Yoann Huget and Louis Picamoles and a peachy drop goal from Camille Lopez had Wales rattled. Wesley Fofana was a brute in midfield, Arthur Iturria and Louis Picamoles were making gains with ease up front. It looked for all the world like France were back.

The second half was a different story. Wales began defending and two gift-wrapped tries for George North later, France were behind. It is no coincidence that France really began to fall apart after captain Guilhelm Guirado went off. A rather alarming interview with Sebastian Vahaamahina revealed that late in the game there was such confusion in the French ranks that Vahaamahina didn’t even know he was captain.

France didn’t close out the Wales game when it was in the balance because the leaders among them didn’t cool the heads around, nobody was there to say “Boys! Take it easy! Keep it simple!” (or the French equivalent). Instead you had a second row throw a 20m miss pass that ended up being intercepted for Wales’ decisive try. The same thing happened in Twickenham. The lack of consistency in French selections mean that there is no real leadership group in the French squad. Guilhelm Guirado is a fantastic captain, that any team would be delighted to have, but there is only so much he can do, and playing in the front row as he does, he is rarely going to finish a game.

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Compare this to Ireland; Rory Best is captain. He leaves at the 50 minute mark, you still have Munster captain Peter O’Mahony, Leinster captain Johnny Sexton, and you have CJ Stander who has loads of experience captaining Munster. Sean O’Brien is not a captain, but is apparently one of the most influential voices in the Irish squad. This is the benefit of consistent selections. A group of leaders emerges in the squad, but if you pick a different pack every week, this just won’t happen.

For many years France have not had a non-French coach, and this is their downfall. They need a fresh voice, someone from outside the system. Guy Noves was good; his results were not, but there was signs he was building something, blooding players, trying to build combinations. You would be fascinated to see what someone like Vern Cotter or Joe Schmidt could do with the talent of the French backs, but given the FFR’s track record this is highly unlikely.

It is clear there is something rotten in the French team. The players can see it, the fans and pundits can see it, but whether the coaching staff will figure it out who knows. Scotland will arrive at the Stade De France this weekend with an injury plagued squad; as to what kind of France team will face them, nobody knows.

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6 Nations

Munster Announce Six More Contract Extensions

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that six players have signed contract extensions at the province.

Diarmuid Barron, Jack Daly, Ben Healy, Keynan Knox, Jeremy Loughman and Simon Zebo have all put pen to paper on new contracts.

Hooker Diarmuid Barron has signed a new two-year contract having made 20 appearances for Munster to date, including his Champions Cup debut against Castres last month.

The 23-year-old Tipperary native is a product of Cashel RFC and Rockwell College and has also lined out for Garryowen in the AIL, he was promoted from the Greencore Munster Academy to the senior squad last season.

Castleisland RFC flanker Jack Daly has signed a two-year contract extension having made four appearances for the province to date.

A Garryowen clubman, Daly is a former Ireland U20s international and has made two appearances so far this term having moved up to the senior squad from the Academy last summer.

Ben Healy lines up a place-kick earlier in the season for Munster ©INPHO/Ashley Crowden

Ben Healy has signed a one-year contract extension with the 22-year-old Tipperary out-half scoring 144 points in 27 Munster appearances to date.

A product of Nenagh Ormond and Glenstal Abbey, Healy has also lined out for Garryowen in the AIL and is enjoying a strong first year in the senior squad having won the province’s Greencore Academy Player of the Year award last season.

Loosehead prop Jeremy Loughman has signed a new two-year deal having scored four tries in 57 Munster appearances.

Loughman initially joined Munster from the Leinster Academy on a short-term contract in December 2017 but quickly established himself as a key squad member and made his 50th appearance against Ulster last year.

Tighthead prop Keynan Knox has signed on for two more years at Munster having scored two tries in 20 appearances for the province.

The 22-year-old South Africa native moved to Munster at the end of 2017 with the Young Munster clubman spending three years in the Academy before moving up to the senior squad last season.

Munster’s all-time leading try-scorer with 62 tries, Simon Zebo has signed a new two-year deal having scored two tries in four appearances since returning to the province from Racing 92 last summer.

The Ireland international and former British & Irish Lion is a product of the Academy and has made 148 Munster appearances since his debut in 2010.

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6 Nations

Six Munster Players Sign Contract Extensions

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Joey Carbery, Liam Coombes, Chris Farrell, Jean Kleyn, Jack O’Sullivan, and Greencore Munster Rugby Academy player and Alex Kendellen have all put pen to paper on new contracts. 

The six players have signed two-year contract extensions that will see them remain with the province until at least June 2024.

Since joining the squad in 2018 Ireland international Carbery has made 30 appearances in red, scoring 264 points.

During this time, the out-half has been unlucky with injuries but has returned to show his quality on each occasion and while he is currently sidelined with an elbow injury, it’s a huge boost to have a player of his calibre commit to the province.

With four tries in 10 appearances, Coombes has shown his quality and versatility since moving up to the senior squad from the Academy in 2020.

A product of Skibbereen and CBC, 24-year-old Coombes plays his Energia AIL rugby with Garryowen and has lined out on the wing and outside centre for the province.

In his second year of the academy, 20-year-old Alex Kendellen will advance to the senior ranks ahead of the 2022/23 season.

A product of PBC, the UCC back-row forward has made four appearances to date with his first start coming against Connacht in the United Rugby Championship last weekend.

Kendellen, who captained the Ireland U-20s last year, was one of the stand out performers at the U20 Six Nations Championship held in Wales in June 2021.

Ireland international centre Chris Farrell has scored eight tries in 52 Munster appearances since making his debut in September 2017.

Farrell has earned 15 international caps since moving to Munster from Grenoble and has been an ever-present for the province since returning from an abdomen injury last month.

Ireland international lock Kleyn is closing in on a century of Munster appearances, scoring 12 tries in 97 games since joining from the DHL Stormers in 2016.

Kleyn has been one of the province’s most consistent performers over recent seasons and is currently sidelined with a knee injury.

Back-row forward O’Sullivan has scored two tries in 21 Munster appearances since making his debut in 2019.

A product of PBC, the 23-year-old UCC clubman made his Champions Cup debut in January 2020 and made 10 appearances last year after graduating from the Academy.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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6 Nations

Garry Ringrose Signs New Three Year IRFU Contract

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Image Credit - @IrishRugby Twitter

Ireland centre Garry Ringrose has signed a three year IRFU contract which will see him continue to play with Leinster until the end of the 2024/25 season.

Garry started all three of Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures having missed the summer Tests through injury.  Garry made his Ireland debut against Canada in the 2016 Guinness November Series and has since represented his country on 37 occasions scoring 10 tries.

Garry Ringrose in action against New Zealand in the recent Autumn Nations Series, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 13/11/2021

A grand slam winner in 2018 Garry also starred on the summer tour of Australia and started four or Ireland’s Rugby World Cup fixtures in Japan in 2019.

The former Ireland U20 has made 90 senior appearances for Leinster scoring 28 tries and has won a European Champions Cup (2018) and four PRO rugby titles (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021) with his province.

IRFU High Performance Director, David Nucifora commented,

“Garry has had a tough road with injuries since the World Cup in Japan but he is a top international player who delivers big performances for Ireland and Leinster.   He will be an influential figure at both national and provincial level over the coming years.”

Garry Ringrose commented, “Delighted to sign for another three years. It is an exciting time to be involved with Leinster and Ireland. Both squads have ambition to be competing for silverware every year and I’m motivated to do whatever I can to contribute”

Source – Irish Rugby

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