Fairytale ending for BOD?

Tue, 11 Mar 2014 08:10
Large briano driscollanthem

Ireland can give their rugby icon Brian O'Driscoll the perfect end to his Test career with a rare victory in Paris over France and with it probably the Six Nations title.

Ireland can give their rugby icon Brian O'Driscoll the perfect end to his Test career with a rare victory in Paris over France and with it probably the Six Nations title.

In a thrilling denouement to the Northern Hemisphere rugby competition - which may lack the finesse of their southern rivals' Rugby Championship but wants not for excitement - three countries go into the final round of matches capable of taking the crown that was Wales' for the last two years.

Ireland, France and England are all on six points but the Irish hold the upper hand in terms of a far superior points difference of +49 over the English, while the latter have a superior points difference of +29 over the French.

Even with the English playing an Italy side - their match sets the ball rolling - that caved in in the face of some inspired play by O'Driscoll and his teammates on Saturday, it is unlikely they will redress the difference.

It will be left to France to see off the Irish - although a third successive draw between the two sides cannot be discounted - in the final game of the day and hand the trophy to England.

The signs are that the Irish, who have become much more positive since coach Joe Schmidt brought in sports psychologist Enda McNulty last year, will start as favourites for only their second win in Paris in 42 years.

If indeed it proves to be the case it will be a fitting end to O'Driscoll's career.

It was at a sun-drenched Stade de France in 2000, appropriately then as this time on the St Patrick's weekend, that the then 21-year-old gave notice of his world class talent with three tries as they pulled off a famous victory.

O'Driscoll, who will bow out with a world record 141 caps, said he felt the Irish possessed the talent and experience to beat the French.

"I feel we have the capabilities now of winning in Paris of course, more so now than other times we've gone over there," said the 35-year-old, who if Ireland win will become the record-holder for Five/Six Nations match wins with 45 while he is already the record try scorer.

"But I realise how tough a challenge it is - we've won once there in 42 years, it's one win, and one draw in 42.

"We realise the size of the challenge, but we feel when we go well, we're difficult to contain, so we have to get ourselves up for one massive performance."

Few in France hold out much hope of the French doing their bitter historical rivals England a favour in defeating the Irish with the media giving head coach Philippe Saint-Andre a hiding.

French sports daily "L'Equipe" ran three pages on the parlous state of the national side on Monday with a front page photograph of Saint-Andre with the headline "Who is running the French team?" and added it appeared to be totally "rudderless".

Saint-Andre, though, insists the character his side has shown in clinging on when behind against both England and Scotland and winning the two matches in the final couple of minutes would serve them well.

"There are days where nothing is more important than the win itself, not the way it is achieved," said the 46-year-old.

"Last year from time to time the performances were very good but we couldn't win.

"Now we are winning and the players are smiling at the end of the match. One shouldn't complain, one should be positive."

Many observers including England's 2003 World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward believe, though, a lot of France's problems would be resolved if Saint-Andre restored the halfback partnership that has produced some of France's best rugby over the past seven years: flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc and scrumhalf Morgan Parra.

But for the late score by France, England would be looking at the Grand Slam.

However, the modest England coach Stuart Lancaster can at least content himself with the Triple Crown. Lancaster, whose previous two Six Nations as England coach have seen the team finish runners-up to Wales, accepted the title odds were stacked against his men.

"Ireland are a quality side," he said.

"But France on their day at home, with something to play for - who knows?

"But we can't control that, we're first up. We've got a proud Italian side to play against who gave us a hard time two years ago and gave us a hard time last year at Twickenham."
 
AFP

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 30 April 2016
Border v Pumas 12h30 East London
Namibia v EP Kings 13h00 Windhoek
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 14h00 Welford Road
Western Province v Golden Lions 14h15 Newlands
Northampton Saints v Bath 14h15 Franklin's Gardens
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 14h30 Millennium Stadium
Ulster v Leinster 15h00 Kingspan Stadium
Lions v Hurricanes 15h05 Johannesburg
Dragons v Scarlets 17h00 Millennium Stadium
Stormers v Waratahs 17h10 Cape Town
Jaguares v Kings 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 01 May 2016
Exeter Chiefs v Wasps 12h00 Sandy Park
London Irish v Harlequins 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Newcastle Falcons 14h15 Allianz Park
Fri, 06 May 2016
Crusaders v Reds 07h35 Christchurch
Brumbies v Bulls 09h40 Canberra
Griffons v Eagles 15h00 Welkom
EP Kings v Blue Bulls 16h00 Port Elizabeth
Sat, 07 May 2016
Sunwolves v Force 05h15 Tokyo
Chiefs v Highlanders 07h35 Hamilton
Waratahs v Cheetahs 09h40 Sydney
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 30 April 2016
Reds v Cheetahs 30 | 17
Highlanders v Brumbies 23 | 10
Blues v Rebels 36 | 30
Fri, 29 April 2016
Munster v Edinburgh 27 | 19
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 70 | 10
Treviso v Connacht 22 | 21
Sale Sharks v Gloucester 11 | 12
Boland v Griquas 14 | 30
Force v Bulls 20 | 42
Chiefs v Sharks 24 | 22
Wed, 27 April 2016
Eagles v Leopards 26 | 21
Falcons v Griffons 26 | 49
Sun, 24 April 2016
Leicester Tigers v Racing Metro 16 | 19
Brumbies v Crusaders 14 | 40
Sat, 23 April 2016
Kings v Lions 10 | 45
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 5 5 0 132 10
Wales 5 3 1 1 7
Ireland 5 2 1 2 5
Scotland 5 2 0 3 4
France 5 2 0 3 4
Italy 5 0 0 5 0