Pure debacle in Paris
Ireland's attempt at retaining the Grand Slam title ended in familiar circumstances when they were played off a freezing park in Paris yesterday. A crowd of 79,289 saw the home team go top of the Six Nations table with a performance that justified their pre-tournament tag of favourites in a 33-10 victory.
France travel to Cardiff in a fortnight where yesterday Wales pulled off a thrilling comeback to overtake Scotland. Ireland now have two weeks before going to Twickenham to face an England side likely to have two wins from two after this afternoon's game in Rome.
Captain Brian O'Driscoll bemoaned his team's error count which cost them in trying to stay close to France, who have only lost to Ireland four times in Paris since the war. Despite taking four lineouts from the home team and conceding none, Ireland were still comprehensively beaten.
"They were good but we let them look good by not getting into the game, not being able to play our structure, to build phases and test them and turning over so much ball," he said. "The French are excellent on the counter-attack and they proved it.
"We made it very tough on ourselves with silly errors. Things didn't go particularly well for us and it will always be very hard to come back from that when we gave France some good scoring opportunities."
The yellow card shown to Cian Healy in the first half was a significant point in the match and including the penalty for his obstruction of Morgan Parra, Ireland conceded 10 points in his absence.
"I'll take a look at what led up to the yellow card," Declan Kidney said afterwards. "We weren't going too bad at that stage it was one of those 50/50 games -- whoever was going to get the first score. So they were right in behind us. I'd never condone yellow cards but I'll look at what led up to it.
"We have learned a lot about ourselves today. We have always tried to take something out of every match. You don't want to go through days like this to learn but we have to look at ourselves now. We have two weeks to regroup and get over bangs and knocks."
The bangs and knocks included Rob Kearney who twisted his knee in the lead-up to Yannikc Jauzion's try in the first half and John Hayes who got a bang on the head. Leo Cullen also had to be replaced after rolling an ankle and O'Driscoll, who was hampered by a leg injury, was barely able to walk afterwards.
The only highlight for Ireland was a late try for David Wallace. "Wallace's try was good handling and it shows if we put some phases together what we are capable of," O'Driscoll added. "It's a shame that plans didn't stick. There was a huge number of unforced errors. It's one thing being beaten in a close game but losing badly is hard. We will use that for next time we put on a green jersey if we get an opportunity."