France v Ireland: Ireland player ratings


15. Rob Kearney: 7.5
To say that he’s dependable is an underestimation of the security he provides Ireland at the back. On more than one occasion he cleared Irish lines with typical conviction, and he was a threat in both set and broken play but he loses a mark for a loose kick with just minutes remaining which invited French pressure.

14. Andrew Trimble: 9
Ronan O’Gara said afterwards that young kids would go to bed on Saturday night dreaming of being Andrew Trimble. After running in Ireland’s second try, Trimble never looked back. His box kick chase, a feature of these championships, was again superb and with the ball in hand he made good inroads, gaining 85 metres with 11 carries and making the break which led to Sexton’s second.

13. Brian O’Driscoll: 7.5
Cap no. 133 for Ireland, his last of 141 in total. O’Driscoll’s man of the match award was a nice, probably unnecessary, goodwill gesture from French television but shows how highly they regard him in Paris. He was denied a try, but not the fairytale finale as he hung up the ‘magnificent’ jersey which has been his own for the last time.

12. Gordon D’Arcy: 7
A troubled start to the game included an uncharacteristic spill and a couple of poorly executed tackles against a rampaging Mathieu Bastareaud. However, D’Arcy’s recovery was as good as those early moments were bad and he finished with a creditable 13 tackles – third amongst the Irish team.

11. Dave Kearney: 7.5
Kearney’s first instinct is to run the ball, and more often than not he made good gains in broken play but there was one occasion that he got caught infield and a penalty resulted. His final contribution was huge, leaving his wing and forcing a rushed pass which, had it not gone forward, would have broken Irish hearts.

10. Johnny Sexton: 7
Normally when your fly-half scores two tries you’d consider that a fairly successful outing, but apart from the two lines he picked through the French defence it was a frustrating evening for Sexton. Crucially he nailed the penalty which gave Ireland a nine point cushion, but he missed a simple conversion and a penalty which would have put Ireland ahead at half-time, the consequences of which could have been huge. Thankfully the collision with Bastareaud which ended his game doesn’t appear to have affected his celebrations.

9. Conor Murray: 8.5
Not all of his box kicks were on the money but it’s an area of his game which has improved immeasurably and he gave Trimble and the Kearneys a fighting chance to compete more often than not. Murray needed no second invitation to set up Trimble for Ireland’s second. Where the French inside defence went is a mystery, but the Munster half-back showed great awareness to spot the opportunity.

1. Cian Healy: 8
Leinster’s loose-head with a tough nut regularly crossed the gain-line when Ireland built phases, but in truth he was lucky not to spend ten minutes in the bin for a reckless torpedo like hit leading with the head on Picamoles. Ireland’s platform in the set-piece was strong with the first line front-row on the field.

2. Rory Best: 8.5
This has been an excellent championship for the Ulsterman, Ireland’s lineout has had a 93% success rate which, as proved in Paris, hasn’t solely been due to the giant frame of Devin Toner in the second row. Toner was actually used less than O’Connell and O’Mahony in the Stade de France but Best’s darts were still superb, and his 13 tackles demonstrated the work load he gets through week on week.

3. Mike Ross: 8
Ross made an excellent start to the game as Steve Walsh took an immediate dislike to Domingo’s antics in the scrum. The Leinster tight-head was able to take advantage, with Walsh seemingly unaware of his dubious binding, and give Ireland a foothold in the game after going 6-0 down.

4. Devin Toner: 7.5
Ireland mixed up the lineout with Paul O’Connell taking a captain’s lead, so only three throws came to Toner during the match. His all round game has improved sufficiently that he was still able to make an impact, playing a part in the choke tackle which ended proceedings.

5. Paul O’Connell: 8.5
The captain was superb, and with Brian O’Driscoll now a former international, he’ll take on even more responsibility as Ireland build towards the world cup in 18 months. After France had taken a 6-0 lead O’Connell had to recompose his team and rose for a restart which said a lot about his leadership. With 14 tackles, and a key turnover after half-time, O’Connell was instrumental in halting French momentum.

6. Peter O’Mahony: 7
Back after missing the Italian game with a hamstring injury, perhaps O’Mahony wasn’t 100% fit but he didn’t manage to reproduce his form from earlier in the championship. The Munster blindside was as safe as usual at the back of the lineout though.

7. Chris Henry: 8.5
Unfairly pinged at the breakdown in the opening minutes, it looked as though Steve Walsh would make it a difficult evening for Ireland. But the ever consistent workaholic continued to impress and even made an impact in the loose, carrying three times in phases leading to Sexton’s first try before offloading superbly to the Leinster fly-half. His 15 tackles topped the Irish charts and he was almost always in the vicinity to tidy up any loose ball.

8. Jamie Heaslip: 8
With an impressive 13 carries and 14 tackles Heaslip had a busy evening as he endeavoured to match the physicality of Picamoles and Chouly in the French back-row. Ireland’s iron man at the base of the scrum still has an unbelievable engine.

Replacements: 8
Iain Henderson chipped in with 6 tackles in the final quarter including a vitally important hit after France had won that last scrum against the head, and Eoin Reddan continued his good form when Schmidt trusted his former Leinster scrum-half to see out the remainder of the game.

Ian Madigan was controversially brought in for Paddy Jackson, but played a solid last 15 minutes after Sexton had left the field. Ireland might have been quicker to set up a drop goal opportunity before France were able to apply pressure late in the game.

Marty Moore, Jack McGrath and Sean Cronin have been the definition of an impact front row in these championships playing a significant part in Ireland’s success, and they again made their involvement count even if Steve Walsh favoured the French scrum in the last quarter.

By David Blair (@viscount_dave)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

12 thoughts on “France v Ireland: Ireland player ratings

  1. I would suggest that Healy was VERY lucky to stay on the park. From the one reply I saw of it, I considered him lucky not to get a Red Card if I am honest.

    I assume, as I have seen no reference to it, that he was not cited?

    1. Agreed. Could have lost his side the championship. If the movement/tackle is deemed to be illegal, then it’s got to be a straight red for a headbutt?

      It certainly makes the headbutt exchange between the Italian and French props look like tame.

      With the amount of time that is spent going to the video ref these days, I’m amazed that it didn’t at least get referred.

    2. Head first, no arms and head on head, that’s seriously career/health threatening. Thankfully he hit Picamoles! Worthy of a citing in my view and whilst there may be “genuine remorse” he can’t claim “good prior conduct”. I would knock him a couple of points for that.

      Agree with the ratings other than that, good ratings for worthy champs.

  2. French fan point of view :
    I know stats and numbers have to be considered prudently in rugby, but I think it’s a little bit hard from therugbyblog to give a total amount of 118 points to Ireland, which is an average of 7.8 per player, and only 85 to France, with a 5.6 average, when you look at the final scoring board and the general content of the game.
    Considering that, apart from these individual ratings, the collective rating is clearly better for Ireland due to the few changes they have had in their squad for a long time, this would suggest that the total difference (individual + collective performance) between the two sides was huge on Saturday. On the whole tournament, this assessment is absolutely right, but when you focus on the last game, I don’t agree at all.
    Maybe is this English point of view the result of disappointment towards these damned frogs…
    PS: agree that the second french try is not a try due to a forward, but if you look at it again, the last pass for the second irish try is forward too.
    Cheers ,

  3. Alan Pardew h/butting contest aside, I often find these player ratings somewhat difficult & subjective.

    Of more interest is that Fr dominated the start & end, whereas Ire had the 2nd/3rd 1/4ers… & why so. Once Ire got ball, having whethered the initial Fr attacks, their backs palyed like Leinster when they won the HC for me. Lessons here for other teams?

    And the player I’d have issues with if I were Irish would be Sexton… & the other blockheads who insisted on kicking the ball back to Fr 3/4ers of the way thru. Talk about trying to throw it all away. Downgrades for those concerned.

    Yet JS was pretty blasé about this in the TV aftermath. Suppose he had a right to be. At his 1st attempt, he won the cigar.

  4. Maxime

    Stats & damed lies. They tell a part picture & they’re surely subjective. As you pt out, regds the scoreboard, 1 of the stats that is true(ish), usually, in the end (wonky refs apart i.e.).

    I don’t know how they work these figs out. Presumably a computer progg’ed system fed with ‘relevant’ data, but if you put garbage in…? MigHt be interesting if the site explained how they judge players?… esp to Mitchell!?

    And there’s little in the way of stats that tell how badly Ire misjudged the game in the last 1/4 by KICKING the ball away & to trying and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. That was the telling stat for me.

    And I’ve usually found that the English, esp their medya, not to mention some inward looking bloggers, talk themselves up… to their detriment. I mean E are still 4th (another quid please) in the IRB world rankings. And as another e.g., the soccer Prem’ship is, week in week out,the ‘best in the world’, but when I last looked E were 17th(!) in the rankings. Hah! Wot a giraffe.

    1. These ratings are completely subjective, written from the specific author’s point of view. They aren’t (generally) moderated across the board, they are all written by different people and as such will be different. They’re designed to get the debate going a bit, nothing more. There’s no detailed statistical analysis done, although the stats are often helpful.

    1. Well for the pot to have called the kettle black I would have to be condoning Farrell for being a tool (no, I wish he would stop being a tool and concentrate on his game and have said so on many occasions). But regardless of that point I don’t think Farrell’s acts of stupidity and Healy’s ruck missile manoeuvre are comparable.

      Healy is a fantastic player, doing even better under the new scrum laws. This season he’s up there with Beast Mtawarira as the top 2 looseheads. However he’s also lucky, in the last 2 6Ns we’ve had 2 acts that could have resulted in very serious injury, I hope he reigns it in as he may not always be so lucky.

  5. Jamie

    Ok thanks. I was beginning to think that it comp sc.

    Do you drink Red Bull for a concentration blast prior? It must be darned diff watching 30+ players for 80 & then rating them all?!

    Sacré Bleu!

  6. Matt

    In so far as they were, or should/could have been, yellow/red, cards they were comparable surely.

    And the Scotty fullback saw yellow, er, oh hang on, red, for the same offence as OF.

    But I agree that Farrell needs to stay calm – for his, his teams’ & poss yr sake too?

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