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Gabrielle Ver Tom Maher/INPHO

Ireland take 50 point defeat against France in Women's Six Nations

Pauline Bourdon and Gabrielle Vernier finished with a brace of tries each for France.

Ireland 3

France 53

A MORE PROMISING effort in front of a home crowd, but Ireland were utterly outfought by a more superior France outfit in a 50-point defeat.

Greg McWilliams’ side were reduced to scoring just one penalty as France responded from a red card for prop Annaelle Deshayes to pack in nine tries throughout an emphatic display.

There was a brief spell of hope for the hosts in the first half when the difference was just seven points, but that was as close as they got on the way to a second defeat on the bounce in this year’s Six Nations. In the end, France secured a record-winning margin over Ireland.

The home side made an encouraging start when Aoife Dalton threw herself into a French ruck to cause a disruption and force a penalty call in her side’s favour. Making her first Six Nations start, Dannah O’Brien complimented the effort with a fine kick to find touch and bring Ireland further into opposition territory.

A few patient phases later and O’Brien released another impressive kick forward to find touch touch inside the France five-metre line. They didn’t capitalise from the resultant line-out but they had given France at gritty welcome to Musgrave.

But by eight minutes, France were in as captain Audrey Forlani surged over to get her side’s opening try. It came on the back of some forceful ball-carrying as Ireland just couldn’t hold back the tide. Pauline Bourdon missed the conversion but the power of this French team had been underlined.

nichola-friday-with-annaelle-deshayes-and-manae-feleu Ireland captain Nichola Fryday in possession. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

France extended their advantage four minutes later as winger Caroline Boujard capitalised on a testing bounce of the ball on Ireland’s Natasja Behan to slip inside and kick the loose possession forward after the ball floated over Behan’s head. Boujard accelerated again to secure the ball and touch down for France’s second try.

Ireland found their pulse in the 17th minute. Dalton proved useful again with a ferocious line pick. The ball came to scrum-half Molly Scuffil-McCabe after impressive support play from Deirbhile Nic a Bháird. Ireland stayed in that danger zone and worked through the phases but they were undone by some indecision when trying to recycle the ball on the ground.

France didn’t push them back sufficiently however, and the referee awarded Ireland a penalty for a high tackle on Nic a Bháird from an inviting position. Referee Hollie Davidson reviewed the incident and punished the offender Annaelle Deshayes with a red card.

O’Brien split the posts from the penalty and now the game seemed to be taking on a different complexion. Little elements of the game were starting to favour Ireland.

But just as momentum was starting to switch, France struck for a third try. Bourdon collected the ball at pace from Forlani to sprint in under the posts. Since Bourdon had been having trouble from the tee for her earlier kicks, the France full-back Morgane Bourgeois took over the kicking duties and tapped over the conversion to put France 17-3 ahead.

Bourdon sprinted in at the corner for her second try in the 32nd minute, charging down on an attempted O’Brien clearance and running on with possession in hand and unopposed. Bourgeois failed to convert but now the visitors were 19 points clear with the bonus point already banked.

The onslaught was clear now. Gabrielle Vernier delivered their fifth try as the difference in strength showed again, with Vernier and Bourdon passing the ball over and back over the final strides after making a burst from a France maul. The centre ended up with the task of dotting the ball down. Bourgeois missed out on the extras but France’s poor conversion rate wasn’t offering Ireland any assistance.

And that was how proceedings stood at half-time, with Ireland all but beaten out of contention.

Ireland started their second half by winning a penalty from a scrum which prompted a mighty roar from the Irish players. O’Brien found touch and Ireland protected the ball from the lineout. Another penalty followed but Ireland opted for a scrum.

Ireland got motoring and used the full width of the pitch to spread the play over and back. But they couldn’t find any cracks to break through. Flanker Grace Moore showed well for Ireland during that patch.

The pace of the game had dwindled considerably by the time France marched in for a sixth try from a rolling maul. Hooker Agathe Sochat lunged over for the score. Bourgeois kicked the conversion. They went in for their seventh try at the corner courtesy of Cyrielle Banet as replacements were flying in from both sides.

Ireland full-back Méabh Deely did her best to prevent another try when she tugged back the hair of Banet, but that act was punished with a sentence to the sin-bin. Vernier made Ireland pay with try number eight, and backrower Charlotte Escudero completed the mission with their ninth before the end.

France, and their established professional system, saw them safely through.

Ireland scorers -



Penalties: Dannah O’Brien [1/1]

France scorers -

Tries: Audrey Forlani [1], Caroline Boujard [1], Pauline Bourdon [2], Gabrielle Vernier [2], Agathe Sochat [1], Cyrielle Bane [1], Charlotte Escudero [1]

Conversions: Pauline Bourdon [0/2], Morgane Bourgeois [2/5], Jessy Tremouliere [2/2]


Ireland: Méabh Deely; Aoife Doyle [Lauren Delany '74], Aoife Dalton, Vicky Irwin [Anna McGann '50], Natasja Behan; Dannah O’Brien [Emma Swords '50], Molly Suffil-McCabe; Linda Djougang [Kathryn Buggy '72], Neve Jones [Clara Nelson '76], Christy Haney [Sadhbh McGrath '57]; Nichola Fryday [Hannah O’Connor '73], Sam Monaghan; Dorothy Wall, Grace Moore [Brittany Hogan '57], Deirbhile Nic a Bháird.

France: Morgane Bourgeois; Cyrielle Banet, Marine Menager [Marie Dupouy '60], Gabrielle Vernier, Caroline Boujard; Carla Arbez, Pauline Bourdon [Alexandra Chambon '58]; Annaelle Deshayes, Agathe Sochat [Elisa Riffoneau '63], Clara Joyeux [Assia Khalfaoui '55]; Manae Feleu, Audrey Forlani [Maelle Picut '66]; Axelle Berthoumieu [Coco Lindelauf '24], Emeline Gros [Gaelle Hermet '50], Charlotte Escudero.

Referee: Hollie Davidson [SRU]

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Written by Sinead Farrell and posted on

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