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6 Nations

WATCH: Ireland Blow Resilient France Away | Report & Highlights

Ireland outclassed and out-muscled France in the penultimate match of the Six Nations

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Ireland have beaten France 26-14 in Rory Best and Joe Schmidt’s final Six Nations home game at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.

The win ensures that Ireland remain in the hunt to retain their Six Nations championship next weekend against Wales.

Before the game started, Rob Kearney was pulled from the team with Jordan Larmour taking his place at full-back and Andrew Conway sitting on the bench.

Despite the late change the hosts started brilliantly, with Best being bundled over by James Ryan in the left corner in the third minute following a penalty to the corner from Johnny Sexton.

Sexton stepped up to deliver a magnificent kick through the posts from the left touchline.

After that it was all Ireland as they camped themselves in the French 22.

There were a couple of injuries on both sides, most noticeably Josh van der Flier heading off with a leg injury and Jack Conan coming on after 24 minutes.

France were warned time and time again about the number of penalties they had conceded in their 22 and Demba Bamba was lucky not to be sin-binned as Ireland crossed for their second try on 30 minutes.

With the penalties building up Ireland set up a line-up maul which Murray took the ball from and sent it to Sexton. Who in turn sent it to Ringrose while wrapping around before receiving the ball back and darting over for a try which he converted himself to make it 14-0.

Six minutes on and it was Conan who made it three tries before the break after a number of Irish carries which he finished, powering through two French players.

Sexton narrowly missed the conversion meaning it was 19-0 to Ireland at half-time.

After the break it was France who began the better, putting pressure on but getting no reward.

Instead, it was Ireland who secured their bonus-point through Keith Earls who was sent through a gap by CJ Stander following a line-out and accelerated past the French defence to touch down.

Sexton scored the extras and at 26-0 Ireland made five changes.

The changes were working with Ireland again camped on the French line and Dorian Aldegheri receiving a yellow card after taking down the scrum on three occasions.

It took until the 77th minute for France to come alive with Yoann Huget racing through the Irish defence to score, Bestiste Serin tipped the conversion over.

With the clock in red France got another score through Camille Chat, again Serin converted to leave the score at 26-14 at full-time.

After the game, man of the match James Ryan admitted Ireland will go to Wales with confidence, but they will have to be better.

“Wales are such a quality team and we’ve seen how good they have been this year. So, we are happy with today and as I say there are definitely areas we could be better at, it’s shaping up to be a good one next weekend,” he said.

Captain Rory Best confirmed this will be his final home game in the Six Nations following his teams win.

“It will be my last home game in the Six Nations. On one hand, it’s bitterly disappointing to know that you’ll not play out here in a Six Nations game again but on the other hand it was a great way to goo out,” he said.

The win now means that Ireland will be in with a chance of winning the championship next weekend with a win over Wales coupled with anything but a win for England over Scotland. While the loss now means that France sit in fifth place, level on points with fourth placed Scotland.

We ran our eyes over the players and gave their our ratings out of 10. You can check them out by clicking here.

Match Highlights:

6 Nations

Leinster Star Considering Options as IRFU Talks Continue

Leinster could be set to lose another club legend with the IRFU playing hardball on a new contract

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Rob Kearney is looking into all options with his current IRFU contract due to expire after this year’s World Cup

The Ireland and Leinster full-back was missing from Leo Cullen’s list of blues players that have signed new contracts ahead of next season.

Kearney’s manager Dave McHugh has confirmed that discussions are continuing with the IRFU and that the player would like to remain with Leinster.

“Discussions are ongoing with Leinster and the IRFU. We had hoped to have reached a conclusion by now. The discussion is live and open. But it has led us to check other options. We are still hopeful of reaching an agreement with the IRFU and Leinster,” he said.

It is believed that at least two French teams are weighing up the signature of Kearney, where he would earn a massive salary compared to his current contract with McHugh admitting that the money has a part to play.

“The IRFU has made Rob an offer. But if I am honest, it is well below where it needs to be – well below. It has been a little protracted. We are struggling to get it to a point where it makes sense for him,” he added.

At 33, Kearney is nearing the twilight of his glittering career but both he and McHugh want him to continue playing while he is still well able.

“It is Rob’s goal to continue playing rugby while he is fit and healthy and well. He is a starter both for his country and for his province. We need it to make sense for him. We appreciate there is an end point to his rugby playing career. But it isn’t yet,” he said.

With 21 contracts being announced yesterday McHugh explained that Kearney was absent as there isn’t the same urgency in his talks as there has been with other players.

“Rob is contracted to the end of the World Cup, so I guess we’re not in the same rush that Leinster were to announce their 21 new contracts for the start of next season. He wouldn’t return to the province until after the World Cup, so there isn’t the same urgency from our perspective,” he concluded.

Kearney’s future has been under much speculation for some time now and there was fuel added to the fire when teammate Sean O’Brien posted a possible farewell message on his Instagram.

O’Brien himself leaves for London Irish come the end of the season and unless the IRFU budge in Kearney’s discussions it appears as though Leinster could lose yet another one of their most decorated players.

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6 Nations

Leinster and Ireland Star Signs New Contract

One of Ireland’s key men has signed a new two-year deal with the IRFU

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Cian Healy has signed a new two-year deal with the IRFU to remain with Leinster and Ireland until the summer of 2021.

The prop is one of the country’s most consistent performers and is delighted to have the opportunity to continue representing both province and country.

“Pulling on a Leinster or an Ireland jersey is something that I have always taken a huge amount of pride in and I am thankful for every opportunity I get. I am delighted therefore to have extended my IRFU contract and to continue to line out for Leinster. I believe that we have built something special at Leinster and with the national team and I want to contribute as best I can to both teams in what will be a hugely exciting few months and years ahead,” he said.

Healy has faced a number of serious injuries over the years but has thanked everyone at club and national level for their support and looks forward to the future with both.

“There has been some difficult times over the last few years for me personally with injury but the support within the Leinster and the Irish rugby family was very humbling from fellow players, coaches and supporters and it’s something that I won’t forget. It made this decision all the easier knowing that I was part of something bigger than just a rugby team. I hope to play my part in helping Leinster and Ireland achieve further success over the next few years and I’m looking forward to the next chapter in that journey,” he added.

Having been capped by Ireland 88 times since his debut in 2009 and holding 207 Leinster caps to his name already Healy is almost ever-present and IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora paid tribute to his consistency.

“Cian is performing at a very high level week in and week out. He works incredibly hard in ensuring that he is physically in the best condition to perform and has bounced back from adversity to return to the top of the international and club game. He will continue to be a leading performer for Ireland and Leinster over the coming years,” he said.

Healy has represented Ireland at two World Cups (2011 and 2015) and will be hoping to be heading to a third in Japan later this year, he also represented the British and Irish Lions in 2013.

As well as that Healy has a host of winner’s medals to his name with three Six Nations Championships in the bag for Ireland, while with Leinster he has won four European Cups, three Guinness Pro titles and a Challenge Cup.

Healy will be hoping to end the week on a high when he has the chance to add a fourth league title to his name as Leinster head to Celtic Park to face Glasgow Warriors in the Pro 14 final.

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6 Nations

O’Shea to be Replaced as Italy Head Coach

Conor O’Shea is set to pass on the reins following the Rugby World Cup in Japan

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(Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Cheetahs Rugby appear to have confirmed that head coach Franco Smith will replace Conor O’Shea as Italy’s head coach after the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.

The Italian Rugby Federation are yet to comment on the matter. However, the South African side have made the announcement and wished their current head coach the best of luck in a deal that is set to run until 2023.

“Franco was offered the opportunity to coach the Italian national side from 1 January 2020. The Board of Directors see this as a great opportunity for Franco and is proud of the fact that so many top coaches have been developed by the Free State Cheetahs. The Board of Directors is proud of and wishes Franco the best of luck with the opportunity to coach on an international level until the next world cup in 2023,” they said in a statement.

The statement also confirmed that Smith will remain with the Cheetahs for the Currie Cup to provide a smooth take-over in management, with the new head coach to come in for the start of the Pro 14 season.

Former Ireland international O’Shea has been in charge of the Italians since 2016 but has led them on a run of 22 Six Nations defeats in a row.

However, it remains to be seen whether O’Shea who has earned praise from the likes of Italy captain and legend Sergio Parisse for his work behind the scenes, will be offered a different role with the men in blue.

In his current role he is more of a director of rugby overseeing more than just the men’s national side and there has been huge development on the club scene with Benetton reaching the Pro 14 play-offs for the first time ever this season.

Having performed in a directing role at both London Irish and Harlequins before it would allow O’Shea to focus on one task and may even benefit the country’s development. Either way he will hope to finish on a high when his side head to Japan later in the year.

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