Bernard Jackman makes bold France Six Nations prediction and ‘fears’ for Ireland

Jared Wright
France rugby players sing the national anthem and former Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman.

France rugby players sing the national anthem and former Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman.

Bernard Jackman fears that Ireland will feel the wrath of France in their opening Six Nations match in Marseille even without Antoine Dupont.

Les Bleus head into the tournament off the back of a disappointing home Rugby World Cup, where they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by eventual champions South Africa, having been favourites to lift the William Webb Ellis Cup.

Fear for Ireland

Jackman believes that the 2024 Six Nations is France’s to lose as he fears for his fellow countrymen in the opening game of the tournament, a match that could well decide the victor.

“Look, I fear for us in our first game against France away, Marseille, the quality France have. People say, ‘Oh they lose Dupont,’ but they’ve got seven or eight scrum-halves who can start for the other countries, you don’t have seven or eight scrum-halves the same as Antonie Dupont, but they have serious depth in that position,” the former Ireland hooker told Two Cents Rugby.

“It looks like they are going to be able to put out a team from squads that are on form in Europe; you know Toulouse hammered Ulster at the weekend, and Bordeaux is absolutely flying. There’s a lot of quality there.”

Will be difficult for Ireland

Jackman feels that France will be out to make a point after failing to win their first Rugby World Cup last year.

However, he feels that whoever wins between France and Ireland on the opening weekend could well go on to complete a Six Nations Grand Slam.

“France, at home on the back of the disappointment of not winning a home World Cup, I think it’s gonna be very difficult for Ireland,” he added.

“If Ireland gets over them, I think we will win it and maybe win the Grand Slam, but I do think this is France’s competition to lose, and Ireland will be there and thereabouts with England in the shake-up, if they slip up.”

Following Ireland’s opening game against France, Farrell’s charges return home, where they will host Italy in round two of the tournament.

That will be followed by another home clash against Wales before they head to Twickenham to take on England. Their campaign closes on March 16 with a home match against Scotland.

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READ MORE: Winners and losers from Ireland’s Six Nations squad, including Jonathan Sexton’s replacement