‘The King of the World is Irish’: French media reacts to Ireland’s Six Nations win

‘Ireland on the royal road to winning the tournament’

Midi Olympique’s headline ‘The King of the world is Irish’ paid tribute to the Ireland team that beat France 32-19 at the Aviva Stadium, crowning Andy Farrell’s side as deserving winners of a Test match that pitted the number one and two teams in the world against each other.

The article declared: “Over the course of a magnificent match, the Irish have proven that they are today the best rugby players in the world. Courageous, Les Bleus therefore logically fell, in Dublin. We quickly understood, on Saturday, that we were living a great moment in rugby.”

Despite having a genuine grievance with regard to Ireland left wing James Lowe’s try, where footage and pictures have emerged of what appears to be a foot in touch before he grounds the ball acrobatically, the article continued: “We can of course argue that James Lowe’s try was perhaps not valid, and that the Irish winger had put one foot on the sideline before flattening acrobatically in a corner.

“This will not change the observation that the France team was dominated by an opponent who was superior to him. We will watch his reaction in two weeks against Scotland.”


Under the headline ‘We exposed ourselves too much,’ in French daily newspaper Sud Quest, French head coach Fabien Galthie acknowledged: “The loss is there. She’s not our friend but we shouldn’t see her as a setback. Until the 71st minute, there was a match.

“You had to be strong to stay in the game and we were. But we left too much energy in key moments. We exposed ourselves too much in the first half. We conceded turn overs which allowed them to come and play in our 22 meters too easily.

“You had to hit, play high. What weighed was that we were unable to take the lead in the second half. And then, it is also the quality of the Irish who knew how to control the score and play in our half.”

Midi Olympique offered their player ratings under the headline, ‘The notes of the Blues: Antoine Dupont and Thibaud Flament bailed, Paul Willemse and Thomas Ramos rowed,’ and for some the markings were hard.

Fullback Ramos and secondrow Willemse received three out of 10, the respective performances of centre Yoram Moefana, outhalf Romain Ntamack, number eight Gregory Alldritt and tighthead prop Uini Atonio rated four, while Flament, Dupont and centre Gael Fickou received the highest mark of seven from Nicolas Zanardi and Arnaud Beurdeley.

Le Parisien newspaper lamented that “position, strategy, rhythm, lessons to be learned from the defeat of the Blues.’ The tone of the article by Romain Baheux and Jean Gabriel Bontinck is largely upbeat and while not ignoring one or two shortcomings in performance on the day, suggests that if France absorb the lessons they can quickly return to winning ways.

Writing in the same newspaper the former French flanker Olivier Magne stated: “We lacked offensive creativity to compete with this Irish team, which is not the best in the world for nothing. There is nothing to complain about the state of mind, the commitment of the XV of France. There were a lot of positives in our defence, but we remain a little unsatisfied by this lack of creativity.”

France’s lack of cutting edge in attack was a point taken by another iconic French flanker and former captain Thierry Dusautoir writing in L’Equipe. He pointed that France must adjust their patterns to a more possession orientated game like Ireland. “At the Aviva, this discrepancy was obvious. With their usual intensity, the Irish did a lot of things right in the use of the ball, they went to play in the corridors thanks to decoys, repeated, always prioritising the rhythm, the advance.”

Another headline in L’Equipe proclaimed ‘Ireland on the royal road to winning the tournament,’ yet another ‘The bad tactical choices of the Blues in Ireland,’ but despite some inward looking analysis on all matters France, everywhere you turned a page in the French media there was a respect for the quality of rugby that Ireland produced to win a riveting match.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer