A combined Ireland and France XV ahead of Saturday’s potential title decider in Dublin

    Credit: Alamy

Credit: Alamy

Ireland and France have announced their 23-man squad ahead of Saturday’s massive Six Nations encounter at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

They’re the number one and two sides in the world, but which outfit has the advantage in terms of talent and form? So we tried to answer that question by putting together a team from the two countries.

A combined Ireland and France XV

15 Hugo Kenan (Ireland): Thomas Ramos is an excellent player and is a key figure for France thanks to his football boots and attacking ability, but Keenan is just one level up at the moment. An absolute rock in the back who consistently makes good decisions with the ball in hand – be it running or kicking. The Leinster man is a very smart player who never lets his country down.

14 Damian Penaud (France): This is one of the easier decisions, even though Mack Hansen has played very well for Ireland since his debut in 2022. Penaud is simply one of the best in the world and showed his qualities in the Autumn Nations Series when he helped Les Bleus escape. of some very difficult situations, including scoring the winning try against Australia. Powerful, fast and with great footwork to boot, Ireland must close the space for the 26-year-old.

13 Garry Ring Rose (Ireland): We couldn’t separate Ringrose or Gael Fickou so we cheated a bit and added both, especially as both teams are missing their first choice players in the middle. Ringrose has always been a magnificent 13 but he has taken his game to the next level this season and has become one of the best defenders in the game. Ringrose’s poise, skill and superior decision-making balance the Irish midfield in attack, while in defense he reads the game very well.

12 Gael Fickou (France): One of the most underrated players in world rugby right now. He has almost taken over that mantle from the 2019-2021 version of Lukhanyo Am, whose brilliance previously went under the radar until people finally noticed how good the Springbok center was. Fickou is similar in that respect, as even when he doesn’t have much possession, the 28-year-old still has a big impact on the game. He is France’s defensive leader, a lynchpin of the backline and someone to keep an eye on at all times when in possession.

11James Lowe (Ireland): After a shaky start to his Test career, with the wing’s defensive abilities often questioned, Lowe has matured into an all-round player. This was evident in his interception score against Wales last weekend, as he read the piece superbly to help the Irish to a dominant lead. The New Zealand-born speedster is also fun to watch with the ball in hand while his booming boot is another useful weapon.

10Johnny Sexton (Ireland): No doubt Romain Ntamack will become a world-class playmaker, but he is still well behind Ireland’s outstanding fly-half. Sexton may have turned 37 earlier this year, but the pivot is still as good as ever. In a very well-trained team, he dictates the game very well and it is absolutely essential that he stays fit until the end of the Rugby World Cup 2023.

9 Anthony Dupont (France): No contest for this shirt as the world’s best player takes it easy. Even if Jamison Gibson-Park had been fit, a player who has been a shining light for Ireland for the past 12 months, Dupont would still be comfortably selected in the scrum half jersey. He does everything right, there are no real weaknesses in his game, and to stop him you just have to deny France the ball, which fortunately for Ireland is something Andy Farrell’s men are good at.

8 Gregory Alldritt (France): One of the hardest calls in this team. Caelan Doris is playing brilliantly at the moment and continues to improve, but he can’t quite match Alldritt or Ardie Savea, who are the best number eight in the world. The La Rochelle man wasn’t quite at his best last week, but he’s had a fantastic 2022 and Doris hasn’t done enough to suggest taking over the Frenchman in the Six Nations. It’s close, but Alldritt can almost get around it.

7 Jos van der Flier (Ireland): Both back rows are filled with stars, and Ireland are lucky enough to have their country’s official World Rugby Player of the Year. Picking up where he left off in 2022, Van der Flier turned in a stunning performance in victory over Wales last weekend. Carrying used to be the openside’s weakness, but it’s almost become his primary weapon, that’s how dynamism he has in contact these days. A great player.

6 Charles Ollivon (France): Carries seven, but since France operates with left and right flankers, he is the blind side of Les Bleus and one of the best in the world in his position. Ollivon is strong as an ox and with a fast pace to boot, both tight and loose. The flanker is also excellent in the lineout, so his fight with Peter O’Mahony will be fascinating.

5James Ryan (Ireland): Has been a mainstay of the Irish side since his debut in 2017 and has found some good form. It was tempting to bring in Paul Willemse, who plays a key role in France’s front five, but Ryan is playing excellent rugby at the moment. The second row has always been a fine player, but he looks more powerful and dynamic this season, as evidenced by a fantastic display against Wales last weekend.

4 Tadhg Beirne (Ireland): The Munsterman completes an all-Ireland second row as he continues to impress the colliery for both the county and country. Beirne is an excellent athlete who is fantastic in the great outdoors, but he has managed to improve the nuts and bolts that an international second row demands. The 31-year-old’s greatest strength is still his demolition work, regularly stealing the ball from the contact area, but he has become an all-round striker.

3 Uini Atonio (France): Tadhg Furlong would have taken this position had he been fit, but his absence is a big boost for the French. Finlay Bealham did a great job against Wales last week, but Atonio is one of the world’s best tightheads. He is behind Furlong in the pecking order, but after a fine 2022, the cornerstone of the peloton of Les Bleus is not far behind. A giant unit weighing nearly 25th, Atonio is a beast of a man and has become a crucial cog in the French striker eight.

2 Julien Marchand (France): It was going to be an exciting battle between him and Dan Sheehan, but the latter’s absence for Ireland means the Frenchman is a shoo-in for this slot. Sheehan’s withdrawal is a major blow to Farrell’s men, with the Irish hooker outstanding in Cardiff in both the tight and loose weekend last weekend. Marchand, who is a fine scrummager and line-out operator, will look to take advantage while also being one of France’s main unlucky threats.

1 Cyril Baille (France): Getting past Andrew Porter based on his 2022 and the Irish player’s technical issues at the scrum, but we’re a little worried about Baille’s trajectory. He was excellent last year, but towards the end there was a hint that his steady work was taking a downward turn. There were some problems at club level and last Sunday he got a good treatment from Italian Simone Ferrari. Baille needs a big performance at the Aviva Stadium, especially with Ireland without two of their first-choice players in the front row.

READ MORE: Dan Sheehan ruled out of massive Six Nations clash with France as Rob Herring kicks off

The article Six Nations: A combination of Ireland and France XV ahead of Saturday’s potential title decider in Dublin appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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