Six Nations: Fabien Galthié defends France’s discipline as he names unchanged side for Ireland game

Head coach says France normally have a sloppy first game before improving as tournament goes on

France head coach Fabien Galthié insisted discipline was not one of his team’s weaknesses as the defending champions gear up for a potentially decisive Six Nations clash against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday (2.15pm)

Les Bleus were penalised 18 times in a tight 29-24 win against Italy in Rome last weekend, but Galthié explained France usually start their campaigns with a sub-par performance in that department as he named an unchanged team on Thursday.

“We are ranked as the second best disciplined team in the world, just behind Italy, with just over nine penalties per Test,”Galthié told a news conference.

“But in our first games we usually get 15, 16, 17 penalties, and then that number drops down and gets divided by two. Last year, we were penalised seven times against Ireland.


“So it’s not a weak point, it’s a point we try to improve on.”

Against Italy, France were often penalised at the ruck, traditionally one of their strong points.

“We’ve been working on this the past few days and we will discuss this topic with Mr [Wayne] Barnes, who is a great referee,” said Galthié.

For what has already been dubbed the ‘Grand Slam’ clash against Ireland, Galthié picked the same starting team, opting for experience.

“We’ve been working with this starting XV for three weeks. They have a collective experience in training, and at our level we don’t have much time to prepare so it’s important to create a coherent tactical and strategic structure and build confidence,” said Galthié.

“So there are no surprises in this starting team and we think it’s the best possible team for our 32nd game together.”

FRANCE (v Ireland): Thomas Ramos; Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Yoram Moefana, Ethan Dumortier; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont (capt); Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Uini Atonio; Thibaud Flament, Paul Willemse; Anthony Jelonch, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Gaetan Barlot, Reda Wardi, Sipili Falatea, Romain Taofifenua, Francois Cros, Sekou Macalou, Baptiste Couilloud, Matthieu Jalibert.