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Friday Feb 2, 2024

The sending off that rocked the Six Nations opener

France versus Ireland was billed as the World Cup final that should have been. Comfortably the two best sides over the past couple of years, both were unceremoniously knocked out of the quarter-finals of the recent World Cup, much to the dismay of many northern hemisphere rugby fans.

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France were thought to be at their very best once again, with bags of confidence and pools of talent, whilst Ireland boast the most complete set of players in their history. The reality of which showed one side well disciplined and well structured, the other…well, French.

This match, which concluded with Ireland’s comfortable victory, struck a sour chord amongst a French side missing their two key playmakers. Whilst their replacements were unable to quite control a game that Ireland dominated, it was the actions of Paul Willemse that truly sealed their fate.

Shortly after receiving a yellow card for his first major offence in the 9th minute, the two-metre tall Montpellier player shattered his country’s chances with a second high hit shortly before halftime.

The big South African-born player is normally a truly reliable player for the men in blue, but this will be a match for him to forget. Check out our team ratings here.

Ireland continue their grand slam hopes next week against Italy, while France hope to reignite their campaign against a hungry Scotland.

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