Touchlines - Taking a sideways look at Oval Office
Six Nations Flashback
Ireland 15 France 12
March 8, 2003
IRELAND were dreaming of big things when they won ugly against France, although the English juggernaut would bring their Grand Slam to a halt a few weeks later.
This rare home win over Fabien Pelous' side had the Lansdowne Road crowd in raptures, even if there wasn't a try to be seen.
David Humphreys won the man of the match award for his 12-point contribution to the cause, while Geordan Murphy (above) added a drop-goal.
France came back at the hosts in the closing stages and Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan conceded his side "rode their luck", but few cared after a win to remember.
Ireland - G Murphy; J Kelly, B O'Driscoll(capt), K Maggs, D Hickie; D Humphreys, P Stringer; M Horan, S Byrne, J Hayes; G Longwell (L Cullen 36), M O'Kelly; V Costello (A Quinlan 66), K Gleeson, A Foley.
France - C Poitrenaud; A Rougerie, X Garbajosa, D Traille, V Clerc; F Gelez, D Yachvili; JJ Crenca, R Ibanez, S Marconnet (C Califano 50); F Pelous (capt), O Brouzet; S Betsen ( S Chabal 73), O Magne, I Harinordoquy.
Poacher turned bookmaker
The esteem in which retiring champion jockey AP McCoy is held in the ranks of the professional rugby fraternity was clear to see on social media last Saturday, but while a number of Irish players have dabbled in the sport of kings, few have thrown all of their eggs into the horse racing basket.
Perhaps racing lovers like Fergus McFadden will watch the movements of James Simpson-Daniel closely now that he has crossed codes after retiring from a stellar career with Gloucester and England.
The 32-year-old hung up his boots recently after winning 10 caps for his country and, having co-owned Welsh Grand National winner Monbeg Dude with Mike Tindall and Nicky Robinson, he has made the move into bookmaking by joining upmarket company Fitzdares.
The former winger will undergo an apprenticeship that should be complete by the start of the Rugby World Cup, with a role earmarked in the firm's PR team.
"I've made it quite common knowledge during my career that this is an industry that really interests me, and under the guidance of Balthazar Fabricius and his team I'm looking forward to what lies ahead," he said.
"Life after a sports career can be quite a daunting transition, but I'm hoping becoming a bookmaker will mean the odds are in my favour."
Barbarian spirit for clubs XV
The cream of the Ulster Bank League will get a rare outing on the big stage on Saturday as they take on a French selection at the Aviva Stadium after the senior game.
And the players will get to pay a small tribute to the clubs they represent by wearing their own socks for the game in the spirit of the Barbarians.
While fans who attend the big game are being encouraged to stay on and cheer on the Clubs XV, those without tickets to the big game can still attend by purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster for €10 (€5 for children).
The club side kicked off their campaign with a 23-18 defeat that saw Scotland lift the Dal Riada Cup at Netherdale last weekend.
Number of the weekend
6 Ireland have won their last six games at the Aviva Stadium, with their last defeat coming against New Zealand on November 24, 2013
Tweet of the week
@properchurch (Cian Healy)
I wonder is there a reason there are so few bins on bull island, those who pick up their dog shjt have to carry it the length of the beach!
He may have a big comeback to think of, but the Ireland prop has bigger issues on his mind