The defending champions pulled off a 37-18 win in Marseille on the opening night of the Six Nations
If this was the battle of the World Cup hangovers then on this evidence the men in green have long since banished their demons while France are still languishing in bed after succumbing to an Ireland record win.
Andy Farrell’s men ignited the 2024 Six Nations with a record bonus-point win in Marseille, although they did have the bonus of playing the majority of the match with a man advantage after les Bleus lock Paul Willemse was sent off for receiving two yellow cards in first half an hour.
Tries for Jamison Gibson-Park and Tadhg Beirne, plus a Jack Crowley penalty on his first Six Nations start, gave Ireland a 17-10 advantage at the break – Damian Penaud’s score keeping France in it on the cusp of half-time.
Calvin Nash scored a try on his first start but Paul Gabrillagues hit back for France from close range with Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony also sent to the sin-bin for collapsing a maul close to the line.
But Ireland were never truly in trouble and scores for hookers Dan Sheehan and Ronan Kelleher secured a memorable fourth win over France in France since 1972 and their first since Johnny Sexton’s long-range drop-goal in 2018.
Their final tally of 37 points is the highest they have ever managed in any match against France and as good as last year’s Grand Slam champions were, many took aim at Fabien Galthié’s France who delivered a performance well below the high standards we have come to expect.
Ireland record win and reaction to France performance
Former Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris was particularly scathing of the home side’s display, which featured a number of uncharacteristic errors – particularly at lineout time.
He said: “Best thing about this game is that Ireland have spanked France away from home, and in second gear…. Embarrassing performance by France.”
Chris Ashton, the retired England wing, was similarly unimpressed with the home side on BBC Radio 5 Live commentary. He added: “France were awful from start to finish, I really didn’t expect that.
“They were jogging and slow getting off the floor. They weren’t like the French team we are used to seeing. They have a lot to work on, lots of silly errors which we don’t normally associate with France.”