Six Nations 2020: Andy Farrell backs Ireland to be physically dominant against France


Ireland top the standings with England and France still in contention going into the final day of the championship
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Saturday, 31 October Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio Ulster with live text on BBC Sport website and app
Highlights: Watch on BBC Sport website and app after the match.

Andy Farrell has backed his players to win the physical battle against France in Saturday’s Six Nations finale.

With the title up for grabs in Paris, the Ireland head coach does not expect his side to be dominated up front against a forceful French outfit.

It is an area where Ireland have been questioned in the past two years, having come off worse against physical sides such as England and New Zealand.

“I believe that they can front up and be dominant, I honestly do,” he said.

“I suppose that’s the challenge ahead for every team that plays the game and we’re no different.”

The question of physicality, and Ireland’s struggles against top teams in that area, was raised again after the recent European Champions Cup quarter-finals when Ulster were thoroughly outmuscled by Toulouse while Leinster, undefeated in the season until that point, came undone against a ferocious Saracens.

“You can’t be just physical, turning up and saying ‘I’m going to be physical today.’ You’ve got to do it collectively,” said Farrell.

“You’ve got to work at a pace that allows you to dominate collisions, you’ve got to be connected together all the way both in attack and defence.”

‘No point scoring four tries if they score six’

With a one-point lead at the top of the table, Ireland travel to the French capital knowing that winning and scoring at least four tries in the process will guarantee them the Six Nations title.

A win without a bonus point would put them level on points with England, assuming Eddie Jones’ side secure maximum points against Italy, in which case the championship would be decided on points difference.

“You can get four tries and still lose the game. They’re so dangerous, there’s no pointing in scoring four and they score six,” Farrell said.

“We’ll stick to the plan and see how it unfolds, and hopefully we’ll try and put enough pressure on the game to try and open it up somewhere along the line.

“It’s going to be a game of feel. The game’s for 80 minutes and we’ll feel how the game’s going throughout so there certainly won’t be (a strategy) of high risk,” Farrell said.

“You’ve seen the type of team that we’re playing against; you could end up shooting yourself in the foot massively.

“Games take their own momentum for all different sorts of reasons, and you’ve got to create your own luck by the intent in your game.

“That’s not from a risk point of view, that’s from an attitude point of view.”

France also remain in contention for the title and need to defeat Ireland and better England’s result in terms of points difference if they are to lift the trophy for the first time in 10 years.

Fabien Galthie’s side were the early pacesetters in this season’s fragmented competition having won their opening three matches before their Grand Slam dreams were ended by Scotland at Murrayfield.

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