Here are our player ratings starting from the front-row and why the players got their scores.
1) Cian Healy (7) – Having been rested against Italy, Healy showed why he is so important to the Irish set-up. Taking the ball on at every chance, playing a part in a near perfect line-out and making eight tackles before being taken off after a solid performance.
2) Rory Best (8) – In his last ever home Six Nations game the captain put in a brilliant display at the set piece, with all but one of his throws going to hand in the line-out. He also made some great carries, not to mention scoring the try that started it all off. A great showing from an Irish legend that will be sorely missed once he retires.
3) Tadhg Furlong (7.5) – Another blistering performance from arguably the best prop in the world. Earning the hard yards and contributing to the set-piece success. Also got off early to rest before next weekend’s clash and will be vital for Ireland to get any result in Cardiff.
4) Ian Henderson (7) – Continued his recovery from injury with a big performance, making carries, massive tackles and ripping the ball from the French. He has definitely given Schmidt an option to partner James Ryan in the second-row with a line-out performance reminiscent of a certain Devin Toner.
5) James Ryan (9) – Incredible. Yet another man of the match performance from the young Leinster man. 13 tackles are the pick of his statistics for the day in a game Ireland controlled but his overall attitude and influence on the game was remarkable. Pushing Rory Best over for the opening try and staying on until the end, he seems irreplaceable in this Irish team.
6) Peter O’Mahony (7) – A typical O’Mahony performance, going under the radar mostly while pushing the team over the line. He never really has a poor game in a green jersey.
7) Josh van Der Flier (6) – Unfortunate to be taken off early after suffering a leg injury but showed good signs before then. Hopefully will be back for next week and showing his class.
8) CJ Stander (8.5) – Following five weeks on the side-line he was back with a bang. Motivating his side, carrying well, and making 15 tackles. He was sorely missed and like Furlong and Ryan is certain of a starting role in this side if he continues with this form.
9) Conor Murray (7) – Looked to be back to his normal self. Benefitted from the quick ball at ruck time and seemed to rekindle his spark with Sexton ahead of next week.
10) Johnny Sexton (8) – A wonderful wrap-around try and three from four conversions are the most noticeable stats but his attitude appeared much improved to the one in Rome. A performance he needed after some criticism and looked more like last year’s world rugby player of the year.
11) Jacob Stockdale (6.5) – Didn’t have many opportunities to show his quality on the ball but looked dangerous when he did carry. Still can’t score against the French though.
12) Bundee Aki (6.5) – Put himself forward for some hard carries and made six tackles. Did nothing wrong but was out shone by his midfield partner on the day and will need to show more to keep his place when Robbie Henshaw returns.
13) Garry Ringrose (9) – Nobody would have argued had he won man of the match on his return to action. He looked sharp and posed danger to the French defence with every touch of the ball. Also made six tackles when needed but provided Ireland with a midfield spark that had been missing. His battle with Jonathan Davies next weekend will be one to watch.
14) Keith Earls (7.5) – Took his try perfectly, showing incredible pace and was unlucky not to get more chances. A first try against the French is another thing to tick off for the Munster man who seems to get better with age.
15) Jordan Larmour (7) – Having been called into the starting XV just before kick-off due to Rob Kearney’s absence he had a very tidy game. Almost got in for a wonderful individual try but for all the brilliance of his side-stepping and pace, a few more passes to team mates wouldn’t go astray.
Replacements (7) – Jack Conan was incredible. Having to come on so early in the game, making a total of 15 tackles, carrying with real intent and scoring Ireland’s third try. The rest of the bench came on after Ireland had won the tie in all honesty with Jack Carty making some lovely kicks and Dave Kilcoyne causing the French front-row major issues. However, they couldn’t add to the score-line and allowed the French in for two late tries to ruin an otherwise flawless performance.
Coaching Staff (9) – In Schmidt’s final home Six Nations game he didn’t put a foot wrong. They got their full 23 on the pitch and were three minutes away from holding the away side scoreless. They seemed to have solved the issues in the team. Next week will tell us how far they’ve come but it was a brilliant performance today.
The Crowd (5) – Anyone who was at the Aviva yesterday will have to admit, the French supporters were fantastic. From the walk to the ground, the bars, the anthems and throughout the match, the French supporters outshone their players. “La Marseillaise” rang almost as loud as ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ & ‘Ireland’s Call’ and they never ceased with ‘Allez les bleus’ compared to one poor rendition of the ‘Fields of Athenry’ from the Irish Fans.
You can watch Highlights & Read our Match Report here.
Pivac names squad for 2021 Six Nations
The squad features one uncapped player, Scarlets back-row Josh Macleod, who was named in the autumn squad last year but didn’t feature after picking up an injury before the campaign began.
Four players who made their international debuts in that campaign, Kieran Hardy, Callum Sheedy, Johnny Williams and Louis Rees-Zammit are all included.
Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones and Rhodri Jones (last appearance for Wales v South Africa in 2018) are named as the looseheads in the squad with Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias and Ken Owens (who missed the autumn campaign through injury) the hookers. Leon Brown, Tomas Francis and Dillon Lewis are the three named tight-heads.
Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Rowlands and Cory Hill are included as the second-rows.
Dan Lydiate returns to the international set-up (last appearance v Australia in 2018) and is named alongside Josh Navidi, Aaron Wainwright, Taulupe Faletau, Macleod and Justin Tipuric.
Hardy who made his debut back in November is named as one of three scrum-halves along with Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams, who has returned from injury. Dan Biggar, Jarrod Evans and Sheedy are the three fly-halves.
Johnny Williams, Jonathan Davies, Nick Tompkins and Owen Watkin are named as the centres with George North, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Rees-Zammit, Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams named as Wales’ back-three options.
“We are hugely looking forward to meeting up as a squad on Monday and to the forthcoming campaign,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.
“The Guinness Six Nations is an important tournament and we have selected a squad accordingly.
“As we consistently spoke about, the autumn for us was about opportunity and development, looking ahead to RWC 2023 and it served that purpose for us.
“This campaign is different, it is tournament rugby and we are excited to get going and to play our part.
“We have picked a squad for this tournament based on form and we are excited to meet up on Monday and to get our preparation underway.”
Scotland name Six Nations squad.
The group, split between 20 forwards and 15 backs, sees eight new players called up who did not feature in the group that contested the recent 2020 Autumn Nations Cup.
In the pack Glasgow Warriors hooker George Turner is selected and joined in the front row by Zander Fagerson and Oli Kebble from Glasgow Warriors, alongside Edinburgh Rugby representatives WP Nel, Rory Sutherland and Simon Berghan.
Glasgow Warriors’ lock pairing Richie Gray and Scott Cummings, Exeter Chief, Jonny Gray are called up, along with Edinburgh’s Grant Gilchrist who left the ANC squad with an injury before the opening match.
Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie, who have both recently re-signed to long-term deals to stay at Edinburgh Rugby, are joined as back-row options by Glasgow Warrior Matt Fagerson and Scarlet’s Blade Thomson.
Gregor Townsend has chosen just two scrum-half’s for this campaign with Glasgow Warriors’ Ali Price and Harlequins’ Scott Steele selected.
Linking up at half-back will be Racing 92’s Finn Russell who returns following an injury sustained in the concluding match of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations vs Wales and Edinburgh’s Jaco Van de Walt who made his Scotland debut in the ANC semi-final against Ireland.
Gloucester’s Chris Harris, Saracen Duncan Taylor, Glasgow Warrior Huw Jones and Harlequins’ James Lang are selected at centre.
In the back three Scotland Captain Stuart Hogg is joined by Edinburgh Rugby trio Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham and Duhan van de Merwe and Saracens’ Sean Maitland.
With an eye to the future three additional players have been invited to train with the squad during the campaign. Edinburgh Rugby back row forward, Rory Darge, Glasgow Warriors pair winger, Rufus MacLean and scrum-half, Jamie Dobie will join up with the squad, which goes into camp on Sunday.
Speaking on the squad selection Gregor Townsend said: “As coaches we have selected a group which we believe can build on the work our players put in throughout the recent Autumn Nations Cup campaign and kick on again in terms of performance levels.
“The depth we have across the squad enables us to bring in some new players who have excelled in recent weeks and others who we believe can perform at Test level.
“Our tournament gets off to a fantastic start with a fixture we look forward to every year against England and the opportunity to win back the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham.
“We are very aware how different this year’s competition will be due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it also provides a huge amount of positivity and enjoyment for millions of supporters and we are looking forward to contesting every match and giving this championship our very best.”
Paul O’Connell Joins Ireland Coaching Group
Former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has joined the Ireland national coaching group as forwards coach with Simon Easterby to focus on defence.
Paul was capped 108 times by Ireland and captained the team to Six Nations success in 2014. O’Connell’s distinguished playing career also included seven Test match appearances for the British & Ireland Lions across three tours and two Heineken Cup titles with Munster.
Since retiring from playing in 2015, Paul has held coaching positions with the Munster Academy, Ireland Under-20s and Top 14 side Stade Francais.
“I am really looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the coaching group. I worked with Simon as a player and am looking forward to working with him again. It’s an exciting young group of players to be involved with and there are talented forwards coming through across the four provinces that will no doubt be pushing for international selection in the coming months and years.”
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell commented:
“Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him and as forwards coach he will have responsibility for the forwards including the line-out working alongside John (Fogarty). He will also be another strong voice and leader within the group.
“Simon (Easterby) has a real passion for defence and having developed Ireland’s forward play over the past six years with the additional responsibility for the defence over the past 12 months, he will now be able to focus his energy and rugby intellect on this area of our game.
“The weekend’s Interpro games and the European fixtures in the weeks ahead will give players the opportunity to push for selection for the Six Nations squad. The squad will not be selected until after the Champions Cup Round 4 fixtures have been completed.”
IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented: “Paul is a young Irish coach with a huge amount of international rugby experience. We have been keen to find the right opportunity for him within Irish Rugby and we think the fit with the national squad will work well. He joins the national coaching group with immediate effect as they prepare for the upcoming Six Nations Championship.”