Preview: France vs. Ireland - prediction, team news, lineups (2024)

Sports Mole previews Friday's Six Nations clash between France and Ireland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Just three months since the warriors of world rugby clashed on these grounds, Stade Velodrome will once again come to life this week as the 2024 Six Nations gets underway, with the 2022 winners France taking on the reigning champions Ireland on Friday night.

The last time both of these European rugby powerhouses took the field was at the Stade de France, where they suffered the pain of being knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup last year.

Match preview

Preview: France vs. Ireland - prediction, team news, lineups (1)© Reuters

Many expected that Northern Hemisphere rugby would make a comeback at last year's Rugby World Cup as both these nations went into the tournament as the clear favourites and with arguably the best teams they have ever fielded in their respective histories.

Last year was a particularly disappointing one for France, though, as they not only failed to make the top three at their home World Cup but were also forced to relinquish their Six Nations crown as their 13-match winning streak was brought to an end by the Shamrocks who went on to win the competition.

That 31-19 defeat came in the second round of the 2023 Six Nations and followed a near-loss to Italy in Rome, where only Matthieu Jalibert's brilliance in the final quarter prevented what would have been a massive upset.

However, their commanding 53-10 victory over England at Twickenham and a formidable performance against Wales at home highlighted France's firepower as they got progressively better as the tournament unfolded.

While many might dismiss France in this competition after their disappointing 2023 campaign that fell short of high expectations, those who witnessed their quarter-final performance in the World Cup would be well aware that this team has the ability to defeat any opponent they face.

Heading into this year's Six Nations, Les Bleus will be looking to comfort their loyal fans, framing past losses as temporary setbacks, and show a desire to regain momentum, secure trophies and ultimately build hope for success again in the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

Preview: France vs. Ireland - prediction, team news, lineups (2)© Reuters

After securing the Grand Slam last year, Ireland entered the World Cup as most bookmakers' favourite, but their quarter-final curse continued as they suffered a heartbreaking 28-24 loss to New Zealand in Paris, marking the eighth time they have bowed out of the global event in the last eight of the competition.

Before that game, Andy Farrell's side enjoyed an impressive 17-game winning streak, and the upcoming Six Nations will be an opportunity for the Ireland boss to usher in a new era for the team before temporarily assuming the role of head coach for the British and Irish Lions during the 2025 tour of Australia.

Last year's Six Nations was a memorable campaign for Farrell and his team, which started with an emphatic 34-10 triumph over Wales in Cardiff, and they followed that up by running in four tries to France's one a week later in Dublin.

The need for Ireland to start with intensity to gain momentum is paramount as, like last year, this matchup could once again serve as the potential tournament decider, this time in the very first round of the competition.

As one of the founding nations in the Six Nations championships, Ireland boasts a rich history having clinched the title on five separate occasions, including 2009, 2014, 2015, 2018 and most recently in 2023.

However, the Shamrocks' prospects of defending their Six Nations title will rest heavily on their ability to fill the huge gap left by Johnny Sexton, who decided to hang up his boots following their Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat.

France form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L

Ireland form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L

Team News

Preview: France vs. Ireland - prediction, team news, lineups (3)© Reuters

Undoubtedly, the key absentee for Les Bleus will be their talismanic captain Antoine Dupont, who has chosen to focus on Sevens rugby ahead of this year's Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

In the absence of Dupont, La Rochelle's number eight Gregory Alldritt will lead the side as the captain, while lining up in the halves pairing alongside Jalibert will be the experienced Maxime Lucu.

Somewhat surprisingly, Fabien Galthie has opted to drop 20-year-old Louis Bielle-Biarrey to the bench for this match, selecting his Bordeaux-Begles teammate Yoram Moefana at left-wing instead.

Jonathan Danty and Gael Fickou will patrol the midfield, with Damian Penaud, who bagged six tries at the World Cup, playing on the right wing and Thomas Ramos taking up the full-back spot.

With Sexton and Keith Earls now retired and several big names currently injured, it seemed almost inevitable that we would see several changes from the last Ireland team that played in France last year.

Jack Crowley has been selected as the player to take the number 10 jersey for this blockbuster match, and he will pair up with Jamison Gibson-Park at scrum-half, while Robbie Henshaw comes into midfield alongside Bundee Aki.

Leinster's Joe McCarthy and Munster winger Calvin Nash are set to make their Six Nations debuts on Friday, although centre Garry Ringrose will miss this match and remains a doubt for the tournament due to a shoulder injury.

France starting lineup: 15. Thomas Ramos, 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Gael Fickou, 12. Jonathan Danty, 11. Yoram Moefana, 10. Matthieu Jalibert, 9. Maxime Lucu, 8. Gregory Alldritt (c), 7. Charles Ollivon, 6. Francois Cros, 5. Paul Willemse, 4. Paul Gabrillagues, 3. Uini Atonio, 2. Peato Mauvaka, 1. Cyril Baille

Replacements: 16. Julien Marchand, 17. Reda Wardi, 18. Dorian Aldegheri, 19. Romain Taofifenua, 20. Paul Boudehent, 21. Cameron Woki, 22. Nolann Le Garrec, 23. Louis Bielle-Biarrey

Ireland starting lineup: 15. Hugo Keenan, 14. Calvin Nash, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. James Lowe, 10. Jack Crowley, 9. Jamison Gibson-Park, 8. Caelan Doris, 7. Josh van der Flier, 6. Peter O'Mahony (C), 5. Tadhg Beirne, 4. Joe McCarthy, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 2. Dan Sheehan, 1. Andrew Porter

Replacements: 16. Ronan Kelleher, 17. Cian Healy, 18. Finlay Bealham, 19. James Ryan, 20. Ryan Baird, 21. Jack Conan, 22. Conor Murray, 23. Ciaran Frawley

Preview: France vs. Ireland - prediction, team news, lineups (4)

We say: France 30-24 Ireland

While Dupont's absence cannot be overlooked, Lucu is a superb player in his own right and should have no problem fitting into this France side that is still one of the best in the world. While Ireland claimed a commanding victory in this fixture last year, they have generally found it difficult to come out on top when facing this familiar foe in France.

This should be an electrifying encounter, but we are backing Les Bleus to lay down a marker with a win in this one.

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