Six Nations: France 8-7 Ireland
UPDATE (14th Feb at 11:40am)
Ireland eventually lost 8-7 in Pau on Saturday afternoon, a remarkable achievement considering it followed the Irish players having had just three hours’ sleep following four hours glued to a bus seat and an overnight train journey.
The IRFU saw the potential for this messy scenario as far back as October when the French Federation announced the venue.
Read on for the fairly shocking account of events as described by head coach, Philip Doyle.
We’re also hearing reports that the team arrived in Pau at 7am, rather than at 3am as originally stated in this article. Neither of the times are as yet confirmed.
In what was Ireland’s first full game of the Six Nations tournament this year, the team faced heartbreak losing to France by just one point. (But then, after 27 hours of travelling in planes, trains and automobiles before arriving at your destination at 3am on match day, perhaps that’s not so bad a scoreline.)
In front of a crowd of 9,000 (lets say 8,995 French fans and the remainder Irish) and in freezing conditions, France dominated in the first half and secured a try (missed conversion) and penalty, to make it France 8-0 Ireland at the half time break. The second half, however, saw Ireland make a huge fight back.
Most of the below exclamations came after the 70 minute mark. France had their tighthead prop, Cristelle Chobet, was sin binned at the 68th minute; while Ireland brought on replacements Paula Fitzpatrick, Heather O’Brien and Larissa Muldoon to take over from Ailis Egan (3), Sophie Spence (5) and Ashleigh Baxter (15).
Ireland capitalised, with a try from Galwegian Claire Molloy and a conversion by Niamh Briggs. Sadly it wasn’t enough, and after a final scrum and a massive effort, the full time whistle blew and the score remained France 8-7 Ireland.
This game – the only senior France v Ireland match to take place over the weekend – sounded like an absolute cracker. It was a terrible waste not to have it broadcast in English (whether on radio or TV).
I listened to the game which was broadcast by Sud Radio, live and direct from the Stade du Hameau in the Pyrenees town of Pau.
Well, when I say “listened”, what I mean is that I struggled to re-live my aural exam for the Leaving Cert, attempting to decipher the barrage of southern-accented French and the cross-talk of three over-excited French rugby pundits.
The easiest things to understand were:
“Oh la la!” “Pfffffff!” “Fwsshhhhhh!” “Mon dieu, mon dieu!” “Bonne défence des irlandaise!” “La défence irlandaise, c’est enorme!” “Quelle match!” “Un jeu incroyable!”
The next easiest things to understand (and these actually were difficult enough) were the attempts at pronouncing Irish players’ names.
Briggs (simple enough, you’d think) became “Brrrrreeegs!” Gillian was pronounced with a hard “G”, and Bourke was pronounced “Boooooorrrk-uh!” Amy Davis became “Ah-meeeee Dah-veeeeeece!” And I swear Joy Neville became “Joyeux Noelle”. Caughey sounded like an attack of emphysema. I don’t think there was any attempt to pronounce the captain’s surname, Coghlan.
Still, though, for all the shortcomings of listening to rugby commentary en français, it was the only thing on offer. As the game progressed my ear became more attuned, and I could hear presenter Pierre Guillet repeatedly tell the listeners how this was the only broadcast of the women’s Six Nations game.
Bravo! And at the same time for shame..
After the game, Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan said of the fixture:
We had most of the possession but we fell asleep for 20 minutes and that’s when they capitalised and scored their try. Then it was just too little, too late really.
There was a huge home support but after half-time it was all us. In fairness, credit to France and their defence but it was all us.
We had a few bad decisions and a few unforced errors but hats off to the girls for the way they came back.
We were trying to force a penalty at the end. We thought we had one under the posts but the referee played on. We tried to keep the ball in hand to try and get either a score or a penalty out of it but unfortunately it didn’t go our way.
This morning, Ireland legend Shane Byrne spoke on TV3′s Ireland AM (skip to 5:40) about the pre-game conditions faced by Ireland’s women:
The ladies lost by one point, right down in the south of France. And just to [be] very critical of the IRFU, they had 27 hours travel. They arrived down there [in Pau] at 3 o’clock in the morning [on] the day of the game.
You know, these are all part – they’re representing the country. They’re putting on the green jersey for us. And they’re amateur, they do it for the joy of it. And to be treated like that, absolutely terrible.
They flew into Paris and got the cattle train down to the south of France, when there was umpteen options to fly down south.
You know, I just think it’s a disgrace, in this day and age. We’ve heard long ago when the women’s game was set together that that’s the way they were treated, but nowadays it shouldn’t happen.
It has to change.
You have to wonder how exactly the IRFU are implementing the IRB’s Women’s Development Plan, as promised.
I hope they écoutez bien.
- ScrumQueens match report
- IRFU match report
- Irish Examiner match report
- Indo three-line match report ..somewhere down the page
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