Ireland’s defeat against England on home soil in their second Six Nations game ended their ambitions of a Grand Slam win. The defeat was a bruising encounter, with two early injuries sidelining key players Johnny Sexton and Simon Zebo. Rumours spread soon after full-time about the seriousness of Zebo’s injury. That speculation turned to reality within a few hours, with Irish manager Declan Kidney announcing to the media the winger had broken a bone in his foot. The injury will put the high-scoring Munster player out of action for a minimum of ten weeks, dealing a blow to the Irish squad. Zebo’s injury comes at a bad time for an already injury-hit Irish side, and has ruled him out of action for the remainder of the Six Nations Championship.
With a Grand Slam victory now out of the picture, hopes now turn to a championship win, last taken by the boys in green in 2009, and will hinge largely on England’s upcoming results and Ireland’s victory against France at the Aviva on March 9th. Zebo’s absence will be a huge loss to the Irish side; one that won’t be easily mitigated.
On the bright side, France has lost both opening games with off-form performances against Italy in Rome and Wales in Paris. Manager Philippe Saint-Andre is under pressure to bring home a desirable result to the notoriously passionate French fans. If France’s recent lacklustre performances are anything to go by, Ireland is in with a winning chance of beating their mega rivals, especially with their track record of victory on home soil.
The French game will be hotly anticipated in Dublin, the epicentre of Irish sport, where thousands of French rugby fans are set to descend for a weekend of Guinness drinking and friendly, competitive banter with Irish fans.
The game kicks off at 5pm on March 9th at the Aviva stadium.
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