Handling errors aplenty as Ireland are overwhelmed by France

Women’s Six Nations: Captain Nichola Fryday says team must put right obvious issues

France 40 Ireland 5

A disappointed Irish team limped home from Toulouse but not without some fighting words. It was always going to be an improbable win for this rebuilding Irish side facing France, one of the stronger teams in this year's Six Nations Championship.

In that Ireland had a better second half than first losing it two tries to one. But a fraught first half where the lineout and scrum failed and handling errors accrued alarmingly positioned the match as one in which Ireland would only bring home scraps.

Four French first half tries and 26-0 at the break ensured an insurmountable lead and bonus point for the home side, the sole Irish try in the match coming from Eve Higgins on 56 minutes.


In a game Irish opening, it was Higgins who scored after nine minutes in one of the few phases of the match where Ireland gained purchase. But it was disallowed after the TMO showed that a French player had been pulled back in the lead up to the score.

From there on it was one way for the French who won 70 per cent of the territory in the first 40 minutes.

“You want to hold the ball playing international rugby, particularly for set pieces, so, at times, when you want to get momentum and you’re making handling errors, it was tough then,” said Irish coach Greg McWilliams.

“All of a sudden it goes 3-0, 8-0, 13, 15, all of a sudden it’s 6-0. We watched a bit of video at half-time and I thought the girls reacted well in the second half. We tweaked a few things, I thought their depth and execution was better.”

Caroline Drouin kicked for 3-0 before Melissandre Llorens and Laure Sansus scored directly and indirectly from scrums, Llorens out wide right from a scrum on the left and Sansus a straight peel away as Ireland went backwards inside their own 22.

Audrey Forlani added the third from a rolling maul before Ciara Joyeux muscled in after an Irish handling error turned the ball over. Sansus scored again eight minutes into the second half, again from a retreating Irish scrum for 33-0 before Higgins stepped and broke through the French defence for 33-5. Fullback Emile Boulard's converted try on 67 minutes completed the 6-1 try count.

“Let’s be honest, we have a lot of work to do around our set piece,” added McWilliams. “The coaches and the players know that and we’ve got to own that and aim for it to be better but, in a weird way I don’t feel too bad after this game, even though it was a defeat we wouldn’t want to have.”

Captain Nichola Fryday said Ireland must now go home and put right obvious issues before their next match.

"They have a very strong scrum and it definitely was a weapon against us today," said the Irish captain. "When you're struggling in that area of the game it's about trying to lock down and win our ball as quickly and cleanly as we can. At times we did that, at times they overpowered us. But we'll go home and do our homework on Italy and make sure we can rectify any issues that were there."

Ireland faces Italy in the third match of the championship in Dublin on Sunday 10th.

Scoring sequence – 3 mins C Drouin pen 3-0; 11 mins M Llorens try 8-8; 16 mins Drouin pen 11-0; 23 mins L Sansus try 16-0; 31 mins A Forlani try 21-0; 37 mins C Joyeaux try 26-0. Halftime. 49 mins Sansus try, Drouin con 33-0; 56 mins E Higgins try 33-5; 67 mins E Boulard try, Tremouliere con 40-5

FRANCE: E Boulard; C Banet, M Filopon, G Vernier, M Llorens; C Drouin, L Sansus; C Lindelauf, L Touyé, C Joyeux; M Fall, A Forlani; A Berthomieu, G Hermet, R Ménager.

Replacements – J Tremouliere for Drouin, Khalfaoui for Joyeaux, A Deshayes for Lindelauf, C Ferer for Fall 56 mins; A Chambon for Sansus 60 mins; J Annery for Hermet 63 mins; C Jacquet for Vernier 69 mins; C Domain for Touye 69 mins

Boulard: Yellow 84 mins

IRELAND: E Considine; A-L Murphy Crowe, E Higgins, S Flood, L Mulhall; N Cronin, A Reilly; L Djougang, N Jones, K O'Dwyer; N Fryday, S Monaghan; D Wall, E McMahon, B Hogan.

Replacements – C Haney for K O'Dwyer, B Parsons for L Mulhall 40 mins; E Hooban for Jones, K Dane for Reilly, H O'Connor for Hogan 56 mins; A McGann for Fryday, E Breen for Flood 73 mins.

Referee: A Barrett-Theron (SA)

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times