Fiasco in Paris not all bad

The cancellation of the Six Nations match between Ireland and France in Paris was, undoubtedly, a fiasco.

It was a farce, nobody is denying that. The amount of money potentially wasted by rugby fans, both from Ireland and France, is inexcusable. The French Rugby Federation (FRF) and the Six Nations Council (SNC) have a lot to answer for.

Yes the pitch was unsafe for players, but it was unsafe for players 90 minutes before kick-off as well when it was passed by referee Dave Pearson, who then changed his mind five minutes before kick-off.

The sub-zero temperatures had made the pitch rock hard in the hour and a half leading up to the beginning of the match and it was deemed too hard to play on. This would surely have been known to officials though when the pitch was first examined and the match should have been called off following the initial inspection.

There is no question that calling the match off was the right decision. Declan Kidney said in an interview afterwards, “The pitch was unsafe. The referee had to make the decision and it was tough for one man to do it. In fairness it was the right decision. The players were pumped up but it will be a new experience for them.”

The fact that it was called off so late is the problem and the cause ofcomplaint amongst all Ireland fans.

However, the match being called off has worked out well for Declan Kidney and Ireland. They won’t say it directly, with the Irish management’s cleverly communicated sense of outrage at the SNC and the FRF connecting with Irish supporters this week, but the Irish management team are quietly happy with the decision.

Firstly, Leinster fly-half Jonathon Sexton will have had two weeks of rest to get over a thigh strain that had originally made him a doubt for the game. The match against Italy will surely have strengthened his confidence after an almost perfect performance, making seven of the eight kicks he attempted.

Secondly, the majority of the French team have massive domestic fixtures leading up to the Ireland match. Players such as William Servat, Jean-Baptiste Poux, Vincent Clerc, Francois Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra, and Imanol Harinordoquy all have domestic duties to fulfil.

These players are some of France’s more prominent team members and the fact that they will be playing so many games so close together can only aid Ireland.

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