Ireland v France: The last four encounters

Ireland have more than matched their French rivals since the 2012 Six Nations

2012 Six Nations Championship

France 17 Ireland 17, Stade de France

This was the first draw between the sides since 1985 and represented a decent display for Declan Kidney's team as the last Irish win was when Brian O'Driscoll snaffled his hat-trick of tries in 2000. Ronan O'Gara was the only survivor from that match but he started on the bench. Tommy Bowe intercepted a pass from Aurelien Rougerie to score his 23rd try for Ireland after 12 minutes. Ireland seemed to have taken a definitive lead on 37 minutes when Bowe created a brilliant try of his own. He chipped the ball over fullback Clement Poitrenaud and regathered to score. Ireland led 17-6 at the break but the French hauled them in within 15 minutes of the restart with a try from Wesley Fofana and the remainder of their points coming from the boot of Morgan Parra.

FRANCE: C Poitrenaud; V Clerc, A Rougerie, W Fofana, J Malzieu; F Trinh-Duc, M Parra; J Baptiste Poux, D Szarzewski, N Mas; P Pape, Y Maestri, T Dusautoir (capt), J Bonnaire, I Harinordoquy.

IRELAND: R Kearney; T Bowe, K Earls, G D’Arcy, A Trimble; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell (capt); S Ferris, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Referee: D Pearson (England).

2013 Six Nations Championship

Ireland 13 France 13, Aviva stadium

Lashing rain and a swirling wind dictated the tactics for both sides, who elected primarily to kick and chase. Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray was man of the match and his halfback partner Paddy Jackson demonstrated his character in recovering from a difficult day off the tee against Scotland to land two huge penalties and convert a try from Irish number eight Jamie Heaslip.

It was Heaslip's French counterpart Louis Picamoles who was to have a massive say in the closing minutes, barging his way over on 72 minutes – by which stage Ireland had lost centres Brian O'Driscoll and Luke Marshall to injury – and after Freddie Michalak had landed the conversion, it was Picamoles who got back to deny Keith Earls a try as the countries drew for a second straight year.

IRELAND: R Kearney; F McFadden, B O’Driscoll, L Marshall, K Earls; P Jackson, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; M McCarthy, D Ryan; P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

FRANCE: Y Huget; V Clerc, F Fritz, W Fofana, M Medard; F Michalak, M Parra; T Domingo, B Kayser, N Mas; C Samson, Y Maestri; Y Nyanga, T Dusautoir (capt), L Picamoles.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)

2014 Six Nations Championship

France 20 Ireland 22, Stade de France

Ireland claimed the Six Nations Championship title in Joe Schmidt’s first season in charge – a match that also marked Brian O’Driscoll’s final game for his country . Fittingly, O’Driscoll was named man of the match, bookending a wonderful career that had sprung into life in Paris 14 years earlier.

This game will be remembered for many different reasons: Jonathan Sexton's two tries before getting knocked out by Mathieu Bastareaud; Dimitri Szarzewski's try that should not have been awarded because of a knock-on; andVincent Debaty's pass to Damien Chouly being called forward when France looked to have won the match.

Andrew Trimble had finished off a break by the excellent Conor Murray but the visitors needed a little luck to hang on to victory.

FRANCE: B Dulin; Y Huget, M Bastareaud, G Fickou, M Medard; R Tales, M Machenaud; T Domingo, D Szarzewski, N Mas; P Papé (capt), Y Maestri; L Picamoles, A Lapandry, D Chouly.

IRELAND: R Kearney; A Trimble, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O’Connell (capt), P O’Mahony, C Henry, J Heaslip.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia).

2015 Six Nations Championship

Ireland 18 France 11, Aviva stadium

Jonathan Sexton was at the epicentre of events once again. Returning from his three-month layoff with concussion, he kicked five penalties, went off for a HIA after clashing heads with his nemesis Mathieu Bastareaud, but returned to the fray, bloodied but unbowed, to see out Ireland’s ninth victory in succession.

Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien also negotiated their way back from long injury layoffs. Romain Taofifénua scored the game’s only try in the 70th minute but Ireland never really relinquished their grip on this match.

The game also produced a less savoury incident with French lock Pascal Papé catching Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip with his knee, fracturing three vertebrae in the Irish player’s back.

IRELAND: R Kearney; T Bowe, J Payne, R Henshaw, S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O’Connell (capt), P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

FRANCE: S Spedding; Y Huget, M Bastareaud, W Fofana, T Thomas; C Lopez, R Kockott; Ben Arous, G Guirado, R Slimani; Y Maestri, P Pape; D Chouly, T Dusautoir (capt), B Le Roux.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England).

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer