Ireland’s centre-back Garry Ringrose has dismissed suggestions that next weekend’s mouth-watering Guinness Six Nations showdown with France will be a Grand Slam decider.
Andy Farrell’s men eventually had to settle for second in the 2022 championship, as a second-round defeat to the all-conquering French in Paris proved crucial.
The two countries meet at the same stage in this year’s competition, with the Irish underscoring their status as the world’s best side by impressively blowing away Wales in the opening weekend before defending champion Fabien Galthie scraped past Italy.
Title talk is likely to dominate the run-up to the Dublin match, but Ringrose doesn’t believe the victors are guaranteed to go through and complete a clean sweep of the tournament.
“I don’t think so, no,” said the 28-year-old. “In my experience with Six Nations, everyone has the ability to beat anyone. Everyone is vulnerable to losing to everyone.
“(We will take it) week by week, raise our game against a team that we lost in Paris last year and in Aviva (stadium) the year before. That will be central.”
France is the only major country to have suffered yet another defeat to Ireland during the Farrell era.
Feb 4: Wales 10-34 IRELAND
February 11: IRELAND v France
February 25: Italy v IRELAND
March 12: Scotland v IRELAND
March 18: IRELAND v England
Les Bleus have beaten the Irish twice at Stade de France in that time – 35-27 in 2020 and 30-24 last year – as well as being the only visiting side to win at the Aviva Stadium since the last World Cup, a 15-13 success in 2021.
Ireland’s 34-10 victory over Wales on Saturday was based on a fast start with three tries in the first 20 minutes.
The Irish were on the receiving end of a blistering start in last year’s crucial defeat in the French capital when Antoine Dupont crossed within two minutes.
Ringrose is determined to avoid a sense of deja vu.
“Looking back at the start of the game last year, they started incredibly well with the fast line-out, I think it was Dupont,” said Leinster player Ringrose.
“They just caught us running. They broke us on the counterattack.
“The start for us (next week) would be huge to hold them off with the threat they pose, pretty much anywhere, broken play or set piece they have up front with their attackers.
“We will really need to be called in not to let them pass us by with their power play, and also to defend the serious try-scorers they have on edge.”