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.
Official. Eddie Jones signs new England Deal.
England men’s head coach Eddie Jones and the RFU have agreed a contract extension which will see him continue his role until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
Jones joined England Rugby at the end of 2015 and has coached the men’s national side on 54 occasions winning 42, drawing one and losing 11 – giving him a win ratio of 78%, the highest in the history of England coaches.
Under Jones, England has won two Six Nations titles including a Grand Slam in 2016, a 3-0 away Test series win against Australia in the same year, an unbeaten run of 18 matches equalling New Zealand’s record and were finalists at last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Jones said: “The extension is a great honour for me, but in the current environment, it is only right to acknowledge what a difficult time the world is facing. We are all looking forward to a time when we can get back to playing rugby and use the sport as a force for good in bringing people back together. I never thought coming here four years ago I would be doing a second four years but the circumstances are right. Obviously it is important for the team that we keep improving and my focus will be solely on that.
“I am excited about raising the standards again. We have a great team. We set out four years ago to be the best team in the world and unfortunately we missed that by 80 minutes. Now we want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen. It’s a big ambition but I believe we are capable of doing it. We have players with an enhanced reputation, we have a team that is expected to do well, so it’s a great opportunity for us to keep moving forward.”
Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO said: “My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community. In exceptionally difficult times, we are pleased to be sharing some good news. We are delighted that Eddie will continue as head coach to run England’s campaign to take us to the 2023 Rugby World Cup. His record since joining speaks for itself and he has proven why he is one of the best coaches in world rugby. The progress shown by England since 2015 has been indisputable and having fielded the youngest-ever team to play in a World Cup final, we know even more growth is possible. We are all excited by what this squad can do and having Eddie leading the team is very important to us.
“We reached an understanding soon after returning from Japan but there were some things that we wanted to make sure worked for both sides. We have announced Eddie’s contract extension a few weeks later than planned as our focus was diverted to support the English rugby community during this difficult time, we are now turning our attention to developing plans to support the rebooting of rugby and a winning England team will provide a vital role in that.”
Ahead of the Guinness Six Nations Jones confirmed Simon Amor and Matt Proudfoot would join Steve Borthwick and John Mitchell as his assistant coaches. Jason Ryles will join later in the year as skills coach following Borthwick’s departure towards the end of the season.
RFU CEO gives COVID-19 planning & support update
Bill Sweeney – RFU, CEO
My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU continue to be with everyone impacted by the difficult and exceptional situation we are all facing, both across the country and within our own rugby union community.
Earlier today we held a virtual board meeting and I am writing to advise you of the actions that have been agreed to offer a support package directly funded from the RFU worth £7m to provide support for community clubs in England.
To support clubs we are today announcing that the RFU will be providing a £7m relief package for community clubs. The package includes monies ring fenced and diverted for the community game as well as additional funding. These measures include:
• An early release of £800,000 cash due to clubs through the ticketing fund.
• Early release of final funding payments (£600,000) to Constituent Bodies and suspension of the activity plans against which this was allocated, enabling them to utilise this to provide “immediate support grants” to clubs most in need. In addition £400,000 will be made available to Constituent Bodies who elect to match fund from their own reserves.
• A suspension of the Quarterly loan repayments for clubs with outstanding loans due in March (£335,000).
• The creation of a £5m support loans programme, offering loans of between circa £2k and circa £10k to clubs, with deferred re-payments for six months and repayable over three years.
We will be providing more details on this financial package in the coming week. We will also be issuing regular club recovery updates with practical advice on how government grants can be accessed as well as other business management advice.
We welcome government interventions which will provide business rate holidays and grants for clubs.
The RFU will continue to provide a free helpline to assist clubs with legal and tax related matters: https://www.englandrugby.com/participation/running-your-club/legal-and-administration
Significant progress has been made on the process for considering the implications of ending the season early. We will ensure a fair and balanced outcome for the game and are now committed to update on this by the middle of April.
No one can predict every possible outcome of the COVID-19 outbreak particularly with regard to the duration of this crisis and we are managing in the unknown. We have modelled three potential scenarios and are working on an assumption based on a medium term impact with a view to a return to rugby in the autumn. We will continue to monitor against this assumption and review and revise planning where necessary.
The RFU had budgeted for a loss making year within a four year cycle due to the costs of the 2019 RWC campaign and hosting only two home Six Nations games. The loss will now be considerably more as we face challenges similar to businesses across the country.
The RFU’s biggest asset is also a major cost and the closure of Twickenham Stadium has a significant impact on the revenues we can generate to re-invest back into the game. In that sense we are like every other club in the Union, when we do not stage matches and events we do not generate revenue.
Based on our planning assumption we estimate RFU revenue losses over the next 18 months to be approximately £45-£50 million and have a firm plan in place to mitigate this. The RFU Executive Team will be taking a cut in remuneration in excess of 25%. In addition, combined Board fees will be reduced by 75%.
We are continuing our support to ensure colleagues and communities are given help to follow government advice and are providing recommendations on how to stay fit and healthy and a range of new content will be made available to players and fans across our social media channels.
We are discussing with government and the NHS the role the RFU and Twickenham Stadium can play in providing volunteers as well as support for the NHS including accommodation, parking and meal provisioning.
I am confident that rugby will play a big role in energising communities across England after this difficult period. In the meantime, we are working hard with the wider rugby community to take the necessary measures to safeguard a financially resilient Union so that we can.
Rodney Parade to help in fight against coronavirus
Rodney Parade has become the latest sporting venue to open its doors to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
The Newport stadium has been provided free of charge as a base for front-line NHS staff to check if they have the virus and are able to continue working. At this stage only NHS staff are eligible to be tested at Rodney Parade to see if they have COVID-19. Dragons managing director Mark Jones said: “The health service and care workers are doing an incredible job in such difficult circumstances so we are happy to offer our help and support in any way we can.
“Playing our part in the local community is at the heart of what we’re about at the Dragons and in times of crisis people stick together. We would urge everyone to follow the latest NHS advice on protecting themselves from the virus, particularly to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.”
A statement from Aneurin Bevan Health Board read: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is essential for delivering services for the people of Gwent. It is fundamental during this time when the most vulnerable people need us most.
“We have set up a drive-through facility to test staff for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and help us get our teams back in to work on the front line. The testing site is located at Rodney Parade in Newport and we ask that everyone practises the stay-at-home guidance and does not visit the site.
“Everyone at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board would like to thank the team at Rodney Parade for their community-focused approach and accommodating us during these difficult times.”