Well, late winter really but that ain’t quite got it..from the Irish Times – it’s minus nine degrees:
At least les bleus won’t be playing with the sun on their backs in springtime.
Otherwise, this one doesn’t look too promising. Not only do France have a hex on Ireland like no one else, nowhere does this apply more than the French capital. Ireland have won just once in their last 20 visits, and les bleus have also won 11 of the last 12 meetings.
Furthermore, France are coming off an opening home win under a new coaching regime and are seeking a 10th successive win here, whereas Ireland have a day’s less respite from a defeat which stymied much of the Heineken Cup momentum. They are now staring at opening back-to-back defeats for the first time since 1998, the last of the wooden spoon years.
The Belfast Telegraph is a strange mix of hope and gloom..:
It is less than three years since Ireland won the Grand Slam and, though there have been some heady days since then, tomorrow represents a watershed occasion for a team that needs to deliver a discernible sense of direction in World Cup rankings year.
It may not have garnered much attention, or been swamped by the feel-good factor of Ireland’s Heineken Cup achievements, but the statistics since that 2009 Grand Slam make for grim reading.
Ireland have played 31 matches since Ronan O’Gara’s drop-goal glory in Cardiff, winning 16, losing 14 and drawing one. That is a win ratio of just over 50pc (53.22) and when you take away the victories over Canada, the USA (twice), Fiji, Samoa and Russia that leaves only 10 wins over what would be considered major rugby nations.
No better time for a turnaround.
Le Monde adds to the pain:
Crucifiés par la botte d’Halfpenny et plus encore par une longue relance initiée à la tombée d’un long renvoi d’O’Gara, les Verts viendront chercher leur rachat. Avec quelles armes?
“We expect a challenge of desperation,” said Gatland, plainly baffled how they (Scotland) lost to England. “I think it’ll be a lot tighter than people think it might be.