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.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - Australian GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Golf - Joburg Open
    Golf - Honda Classic
    Tennis - Dubai Championships
    Tennis - Mexican Open
  • Latest
  • Most Viewed
  • News
  • Features
  • Rugby

    Ireland stifle England out of Grand Slam chase

    A Robbie Henshaw try and a nerveless kicking performance from Jonny Sexton ensured Ireland kicked England's Grand Slam aspirations into touch in Dublin

  • Rugby

    Young try double gives Wasps victory

    Wasps continued their impressive Premiership record at the Ricoh Arena as they downed Gloucester 32-21 to claim a fourth maximum points victory of the season

  • Football

    It's frightening to think what Coutinho is worth - Rodgers

    Brendan Rodgers hailed Philippe Coutinho as "a joy to watch" after the midfielder scored a spectacular winner against Manchester City and claimed it is "frightening" to think what the Brazilian could be worth

  • Football

    Pellegrini refuses to give up Manchester City's title hopes

    Manuel Pellegrini insisted Manchester City's title challenge is not over after defeat to Liverpool but admitted it is getting more difficult for them to retain their crown

  • Football

    Liverpool can 'go far' with magicians like Coutinho

    Adam Lallana insists Liverpool will "go far" with players like Philippe Coutinho after the Brazilian's brilliant winner spurred them to victory against Manchester City on Sunday

  • Rugby

    Saint-Andre's France future in the balance

    With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards

  • Rugby

    Italian bulldozers wreck Scotland revival talk

    They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay

  • Week in Words

    Giroud gets emotional

    In the latest edition of ESPN's Week in Words, Olivier Giroud gets emotional, Dimitar Berbatov is a bit smug, Arsene Wenger is hurting and Rory McIlroy is "p***** off"

  • Formula 1

    I didn't get here by being 'the son of'

    ESPN sat down with Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz in Barcelona to talk his rookie year, escaping his famous father's shadow and the step up to the big league in 2015

  • Horse Racing

    Horses for courses

    Kempton Park and which other course have a race named after Desert Orchid?

  • News
  • Features
Sponsored Links
Make Huge Income from your Home
Download your Free Guide And Learn How To Increase Your Monthly Income
Make $170 in 60 seconds!
Google Vs Facebook, 60 sec. knock out! Choose a champion, Become a Winner!
Make $25 in 1 Minute!
Start trading with the biggest broker! Register now to receive $25 for FREE!