Wednesday 29 March 2017

A young Irish scrum-half will partner rugby legend Dan Carter in the halfbacks for Racing today

Grenoble's Irish scrum-half James Hart runs with the ball during the French Top 14 rugby union match Grenoble (FCG) vs Lyon (LOU) on November 8, 2014 at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble. AFP PHOTO / Jean-Pierre Clatot. (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Grenoble's Irish scrum-half James Hart runs with the ball during the French Top 14 rugby union match Grenoble (FCG) vs Lyon (LOU) on November 8, 2014 at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble. AFP PHOTO / Jean-Pierre Clatot. (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

The provinces are still in their pre-season phase but elsewhere, top flight rugby is getting underway this evening.

The notoriously lengthy Top 14, which only held its final at the end of June, restarts today and there is plenty of Irish representation in one fixture.

Although Bernard Jackman brings his Grenoble side to Paris to face Stade Francais as he begins life in his new role as Director of Rugby at the Alpine club, Bordeaux Begles v Racing Metro will undoubtedly pique Irish interest even more.

Ex-Leinster back Ian Madigan will make his Bordeaux debut at out-half, playing opposite none other than All Blacks legend Dan Carter.

It will be intriguing to see how Madigan adjusts to French rugby, but one Irishman involved in the match is well used to the Top 14 at this stage.

Former Belvedere College pupil James Hart joined Bernard Jackman's Grenoble in 2011, before transferring to Racing this summer. In what is sure to be a dream occasion for Hart, he will line out at scrum-half today, partnering Carter in the half-backs.

Hart has built a solid career for himself in France that has featured plenty of highlights - most notably when he outshone Johnny Sexton in a memorable win during the Leinster ten's time in Paris.

Madigan's debut gets underway in Bordeaux at 19.45pm Irish time tonight, and can be watched on the Sky Sports red buton.

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