Winning start for France in Le Mans

In front of more than 15,000 spectators, France made a solid 38-17 start to their Six Nations tournament with a comfortable win over Ireland.

Published by Six Nations, March 23rd, 2024

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Winning start for France in Le Mans

Highlights (FFR)

France coaches David Ortiz and Gaëlle Mignot had history on their side when they took on the Irish, with 10 French wins from the last ten visits by the team in green.

France were also runners-up last year while Ireland took the Wooden Spoon, which made the home team hot favourites for the game - something that has often tripped up the French in the past.

However from the start, the French defence gave the impression that it could absorb whatever the Irish threw at it all afternoon, and though Ireland's defence was at times impressive, there was no doubt when the home side scored after just two minutes, who would win the game.

After a line-out following a penalty, Pauline Bourdon Sansus took advantage of the work of her forward pack to score the first try of the game with Lina Queyroi converting.

France dominated territory and possession but Manae Feleu's team failed to take advantage, with Charlotte Escudero and Annaëlle Deshayes missing scoring opportunities and with some heroic Irish defence keeping them out.

The crowd had to wait until the half hour mark to see the French double their lead thanks to Marine Ménager after a clever switch with Bourdon Sansus. An additional penalty from Lina Queyroi just before the break allowed France to return to the changing room with a comfortable lead (17-3).

The second period started as the first had ended with the dominant Blues quickly finding the opportunities, often thanks to the power of Madoussou Fall. Just after the hour mark, the try bonus point fell into the French hands with a fourth try, this time from by Agathe Sochat.

Ireland's attack improved as the game went on, with replacement Sadhbh McGrath and centre Aoife Dalton making inroads, before a five-metre penalty led to Aoife Wafer - who was Ireland's standout - driving in low to score. Dannah O'Brien's converted.

France's Elisa Riffonneau rumbling over from a maul effort, but Ireland had the final say when Dalton flew up on Lina Tuy and pounced on the loose ball to score just behind the posts. O'Brien's conversion left the difference at the end at 21 points.

France will rue the many opportunities that went begging, whole being pleased with their haul, while Ireland can take pride in a performance that was at times dogged, and certainly impressive defensively.

FRANCE: Émilie Boulard (FFR/Blagnac RF); Kelly Arbey (AOL/Stade Toulousain), Nassira Konde (FFR/Stade Bordelais), Gabrielle Vernier (FFR/Blagnac RF), Marine Menager (FFR/Montpellier HR); Lina Queyroi (FFR/Blagnac RF), Pauline Bourdon Sansus (FFR/Stade Toulousain); Annaëlle Deshayes (FFR/Stade Bordelais), Agathe Sochat (FFR/Stade Bordelais), Assia Khalfaoui (FFR/Stade Bordelais), Manae Feleu (FFR/FC Grenoble Amazones) (capt), Madoussou Fall (FFR/Stade Bordelais), Charlotte Escudero (FFR/Stade Toulousain), Gaëlle Hermet (FFR/Stade Toulousain), Romane Menager (FFR/Montpellier HR).

Replacements used: Morgane Bourgeois (FFR/Stade Bordelais) for M Menager (43 mins), Emeline Gros (FFR/FC Grenoble Amazones) for Fall (50), Ambre Mwayembe (AOL/FC Grenoble Amazones) for Deshayes (55), Alexandra Chambon (FFR/FC Grenoble Amazones) for Bourdon Sansus (60), Elisa Riffonneau (Ealing Trailfinders) for Sochat, Clara Joyeux (FFR/Blagnac RF) for Khalfaoui (both 64), Kiara Zago (AOL/Stade Toulousain) for Feleu (67), Lina Tuy (AOL/ASM Romagnat) for Queyroi (71).

IRELAND: Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby); Katie Corrigan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster), Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College/Connacht); Nicole Fowley (Galwegians/Connacht), Aoibheann Reilly (Blackrock College/Connacht); Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury), Christy Haney Blackrock College/Leinster), Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College/Munster), Hannah O'Connor (Blackrock College/Leinster), Aoife Wafer (Blackrock College/Leinster), Edel McMahon (Exeter Chiefs) (co-capt), Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere/Ulster).

Replacements used: Dannah O'Brien (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Fowley (half-time), Grace Moore (Saracens/IQ Rugby) for McMahon (50 mins), Fiona Tuite (Old Belvedere/Ulster) for Wall (55), Sadhbh McGrath (Cooke/Ulster) for Haney, Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Leinster) for Reilly (both 62), Méabh Deely (Blackrock College/Connacht) for Corrigan (67), Sarah Delaney (Blackrock College/Leinster) for Wafer, Niamh O'Dowd (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Djougang (both 76).

Referee: Kat Roche (USA)