ESPN SCRUM

/ France

/ News

France v Ireland
Pape: Ireland 'best team' in competition
ESPN Staff
March 14, 2014
Pascal Pape in action for France against Scotland © Getty Images
Enlarge

France will have to beat the "best team" in the competition if they are to win the Six Nations tomorrow, according to captain Pascal Pape.

France play host to Ireland in Paris with both sides still able to win the championship. England, who take on Italy in Rome, are also contenders for the Six Nations title, but Ireland are in the box seat thanks to a superior points difference.

France skipper Pape was full of praise for the Irish. He said: "Ireland are a very nice side, very strong up front, with a good defence and in the tackle

"They are the best team. We are going to try and subdue them and put in a great performance. It is a terrific challenge ahead of us: each one of us will have an experienced player opposing us, of the highest quality."

France have come under fire for a series of disappointing performances during this Six Nations campaign, with head coach Philippe Saint-Andre insisting he is to blame for his side's lacklustre efforts.

But Pape has indicated the squad is ready to pull together. He said: "We all want to produce something memorable. To end the tournament with a victory is our target. As for the criticism, well that is part and parcel of the game.

"We are more focused on our performance than what is said about us. There have been good things during the tournament, it is important that we remember that and don't change everything.

"All that remains is one match against Ireland, probably the in-form team, so it will be a highly-motivated France team who will play at the Stade de France in front of 80,000 supporters. They at least support us"

Saint-Andre has rung the changes for the Ireland clash, swapping four from the side that narrowly defeated Scotland last weekend. Attention has focussed on the first Test start for exciting prospect Gael Fickou, who replaces Maxime Mermoz at inside centre.

Fickou will line up against Brian O'Driscoll in midfield, with the veteran centre retiring from international rugby after tomorrow's fixture. Despite the pressure, Fickou is relishing the chance to test himself against the best.

He said: "I'm very happy. It's also a great pride to make my debut in this context, against Ireland, for the final match of the Six Nations, at the Stade de France and against O'Driscoll. He's an icon in Ireland and has really contributed to his country."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Latest
  • Most Viewed
  • News
  • Features
  • Golf

    Aaron Baddeley holes par-4 birdie from tee box, while Mickelson loses his head

    Aaron Baddeley's tee shot on the par-4 17th Thursday at the Texas Open would have been the second hole-in-one on a par 4 in PGA Tour history had he only taken a mulligan

  • Formula 1

    Rosberg: Tyres a huge challenge

    Nico Rosberg thinks the perfect strategy in Malaysia will involve getting as much out of one stint on the option tyre as possible during Sunday's race

  • Rugby

    Second-half blitz sees Hurricanes thump Rebels

    The Hurricanes have produced a blistering second-half performance to record a commanding 36-12 victory over Melbourne Rebels in Wellington

  • Rugby

    Ospreys bring Delve home on two-year deal

    Wales international back-row forward Gareth Delve has signed for the Ospreys

  • Football

    Wayne Rooney: No repeat of boxing goal celebration

    Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney has abandoned his boxing goal celebration after his five-year-old son copied it at school

  • Rugby

    Unsavoury sledging did not end with Potgieter

    Fallout continues from the NSW-Brumbies derby, with one Tahs forward - not Potgieter - surprised by other unsavoury comments during the game, Greg Growden reports

  • Rugby

    Super Rugby preview, team news, line-ups: Round 7

    Greg Growden previews Super Rugby round 7. We've also got key stats, team news and all the line-ups to inform your ESPN Footytips Super Rugby picks

  • Formula 1

    Storm clouds gather in Malaysia

    Will Mercedes dominate again? Can anybody catch up with the help of a rainstorm? And will the Red Bull/Renault relationship tear itself apart? All those questions and more will be answered at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix

  • Formula 1

    Alonso: More questions than answers

    Maurice Hamilton pieces together what we know from the Fernando Alonso crash and explains why the latest answers raise more questions

  • Rugby

    Attacking revolution won't be repeated at World Cup

    John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year

  • News
  • Features
  • Inside Boxing

    'I've sparred with Klitschko and Fury - now I want Joshua'

    Unbeaten heavyweight Dillian Whyte, 28, (14-0, 11 KOs) tells ESPN where his rivalry with Anthony Joshua stems from and outlines the plan for his career this year after returning from a doping ban in November

  • UFC

    Top 10 best UFC fighters of all time

    Some of the best fighters to ever glove up have plied their trade in the Octagon - now ESPN list the 10 best who have fought under the UFC banner

  • Ask Steven

    Home front

    Who was the first Briton to win the British Grand Prix?

  • Ask Steven

    Pointless drivers

    Where does Anthony Davidson's record of 24 Grands Prix without a point rank him?

  • Ask Steven

    Home favourites

    How many F1 drivers have had one win, but done it at their home Grand Prix?

Sponsored Links

Make Huge Income from your Home
Download your Free Guide And Learn How To Increase Your Monthly Income