Odds: France 2/1, Draw 22/1, Ireland 2/5
Kick Off: 1645, 03/02/2018
Stadium: Stade de France
TV: BBC One
France’s decline from European super-power to Six Nations also-rans has been sad to watch, but there is fresh hope of the tide turning ahead of this year’s opener against Ireland in Paris.
New head coach Jacques Brunel looks set to go back to basics and adopt a no-nonsense approach to stopping the rot and that should help him make an immediate impact.
Beating a well-drilled and stable Ireland side may be a big ask, but the last three meetings at Stade de France have been incredibly close, with a 2012 draw followed by narrow wins for each side.
A Look At France’s Betting Odds
Guy Noves became the first France coach to be sacked following a dreadful autumn in which they narrowly escaped losing to Japan.
The feeling is that he put too much emphasis on developing for the future, rather than securing some solid results here and now.
Brunel has vowed to avoid making the same mistake, stating: “We have changed the staff and the squad. It is a new environment with new energy and we hope to have a new synergy for the tournament.
“The team has been losing. Right now, the first objective is to start winning matches again and build confidence.”
French rugby has been adversely affected by bringing in too many overseas stars, but with Clermont, La Rochelle, Toulon and Racing 92 all making the European Cup quarter-finals, it shows the core talent is still there as well.
Losing scrum-half Morgan Parra and full-back Brice Dulin to injury is a blow, but Brunel’s pledge to select players on form and fitness should still create a competitive force.
A fast start would be a huge help and 5/4 for Les Bleus to reach 10 points first catches the eye from the France vs Ireland odds.
A Look At Ireland’s Betting Odds
Ireland are again being tipped to be title contenders, having finished top of the table in 2014 and 2015 and being runners-up last season.
Joe Schmidt has the benefit of great continuity in key positions, while seven straight Test triumphs have been backed up by superb club form from Leinster and Munster.
Rising stars such as Jordan Larmour will aid Schmidt’s revamped, more expansive attacking blueprint and it is hard to pick holes in their line-up.
Even so, Paris is never an easy place to visit and discipline will play a big part in what should prove a frenetic first 20 minutes.
We’re hoping the hosts will rise to the occasion and 17/10 for Les Bleus to open the scoring with a penalty kick completes our France vs Ireland betting tips.
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Best bets for France vs Ireland