The world's two best sides go head-to-head in Dublin
Does it get any better than this? Six Nations Ireland v France, world No 1 hosting world No 2 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Strap yourselves in.
Andy Farrell’s side have looked nigh on invincible since rising to the summit of the world rankings, an unprecedented series win in New Zealand last summer adding a certain swagger to their stride.
Read more: Ireland Six Nations squad – Team to play France
But France are the reigning Grand Slam champions and did not lose a single game in 2022, a run that now stretches to 14. And Fabien Galthié’s men will not be in any mood to surrender that winning streak without a significant fight on Saturday afternoon.
Ireland have the home advantage and are full of confidence after putting Wales to the sword. France got off the mark with a win in Italy but it was far from convincing against an inspired Azzurri outfit.
The only thing you can be certain of is that it’s definitely worth turning in. Here’s everything you need to know for this mouth-watering clash…
Related: France Six Nations squad – Team to play Ireland
What is the team news for Six Nations Ireland v France?
Farrell puts on a positive front but even the unfazed Wiganer will admit that the loss of hooker Dan Sheehan is a big blow to his side. The Leinsterman has fast established himself as one of the game’s best No 2s and showed why at Principality Stadium but a hamstring problem has ruled him out of contention.
Read more: How to watch Ireland v France?
Rob Herring is a perfectly capable replacement in the front row and Ronan Kelleher’s recovery from his own hamstring problem is timely as he takes up a spot on the bench.
Ireland are also missing Jamison Gibson-Park, who pulled out on the day in Cardiff, with Conor Murray – who has had his own fitness concerns – to continue at scrum-half while replacement loosehead Cian Healy is not fit enough to take up a spot in the 23.
Related: Rugby Fixtures
France have named an unchanged XV from the one that just about got the job done in Rome, but there are two alterations among the replacements.
Baptsite Couilloud is fit again to provide scrum-half cover for captain Antoine Dupont while Grand Slam-winner Francois Cros is ready to bolster the back row if called upon.
What have the coaches said for Six Nations Ireland v France?
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell: “Everyone is looking forward to this. Home advantage has to be a weapon for us. We’ve all got a responsibility for that.
“I think France are a fantastic team. We certainly think we have (improved since last year). We nearly got there in Paris last year but nearly is not quite good enough, so therefore, lessons learned. I think they’re well documented as far as being ourselves and taking our game to them.”
France head coach Fabien Galthié: “They are the number one team in the world, which means they are the best because there is only one best team in the world. They have held that ranking since last summer, to do that you have to keep putting in good performances because we can tell that 14 wins in a row isn’t enough to go top.
“That says it all. Andy Farrell took over from Joe Schmidt and built on the strengths of Irish rugby, that is an attacking game that is incredibly accurate. We can only admire them. Every match in the Championship is a final, but this will be against one of the best opponents we have faced over 32 matches.”
Six Nations Ireland v France: Any interesting statistics?
- France have won each of their last three meetings with Ireland, having won just one of their previous nine Test encounters (drawn two, lost six). Each of the last three meetings have been decided by single figures
- Ireland have won 21 of their last 22 home games including 12 in a row – their joint longest winning run on home soil. However, the last team to beat them at the Aviva Stadium were France in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.
- France (37) and Ireland (33) were the only sides to beat 30+ defenders in Round 1, while they were the only nations to miss fewer than 20 tackles (Ireland 17, France 18)
- France completed the most offloads of any nation in the opening round (11) while Ireland’s Mack Hansen made the joint most offloads of any player with three (level with Jack van Poortvliet)
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
Related: Ireland v France live stream: how to watch Six Nations from anywhere
Ireland v France, Aviva Stadium, Saturday 11 February, 2.15pm
Read more: Six Nations live stream: how to watch from anywhere
The game kicks off at 2.15pm GMT. The match is being shown live on ITV in the UK with coverage starting at 1.25pm GMT.
In Ireland, you can catch all the action on RTÉ 2.
Related: 2023 Six Nations Referees
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referee 2: Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
What are the line-ups?
IRELAND: Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Stuart McCloskey, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Andrew Porter, Rob Herring, Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Tom O’Toole, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan, Crag Casey, Ross Byrne, Bundee Aki
FRANCE: Thomas Ramos; Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Yoram Moefana, Ethan Dumortier; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont (c); Gregory Alldritt, Charles Ollivon, Anthony Jelonch, Paul Willemse, Thibaud Flament, Uini Atonio, Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille
Replacements: Gaetan Barlot, Reda Wardi, Sipili Falatea, Romain Taofifenua, Francois Cros, Sekou Macalou, Baptiste Couilloud, Matthieu Jalibert
Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.