France player ratings: Paul Willemse’s red card costs lacklustre Les Bleus against Ireland

Dylan Coetzee
France second-row Paul Willemse gets sent off against Ireland.

France second-row Paul Willemse gets sent off against Ireland.

Following Ireland’s 38-17 win over France at the Orange Velodrome in Marseille, here are our Les Bleus ratings from the Six Nations opener.

Player ratings

15 Thomas Ramos: The goal kicker only missed one from the tee but was not really prevalent otherwise as he spent most of the game chasing shadows or mopping up the ball in the backfield. 5

14 Damian Penaud: Even when his team is under the pump he finds a way to score. His try-scoring is hugely impressive but he was not his pure best otherwise, making some errors under the high ball under pressure. 6

13 Gael Fickou: The Les Bleus defensive captain will always empty the tank and that was the case again today. He made 10 tackles and did what he could to inject some impetus into the attack with no luck. 6

12 Jonathan Danty: The centre will not want to watch the replay of Tadhg Beirne’s try which came as a result of a poor read and lazy effort to cover space. He was ineffective at the breakdown by his standards and will be desperate to improve on his effort next week. 4

11 Yoram Moefana: Mostly quiet throughout the game without making any obvious and telling errors. Made his tackles but was not nearly as effective as he is when he plays in the middle of the park. 5

10 Matthieu Jalibert: The fly-half played Penaud in with a sumptuous short ball to give his side a glimmer of home. It was a difficult outing otherwise and one perhaps he could have tried to influence a bit more by finding ways to break Ireland’s stride. 5

9 Maxime Lucu: It was always going to be hard to fill Antoine Dupont’s boots and whilst the scrum-half held his own for the most part, it was not the performance he would have hoped given the opportunity. 5

Hard-working pack

8 Gregory Alldritt: A tough start to his captaincy but no shortage of effort as he carried when he could and made a whopping 16 tackles without missing any. A classic case of leading by example on a difficult night. 7

7 Charles Ollivon: Much like his skipper, the flank worked hard where possible, making 15 tackles, but did not get into the game as much as normal with ball in hand. It was not a bad outing but he would have wanted more. 6

6 Francois Cros: Another committed player on defence but that was it. The flank made 12 tackles to showcase his work rate but ultimately the physical battle went the way of the men in green. 6

5 Paul Willemse: “How do you want us to tackle?” were the words the second-rower asked before being issued his second yellow card and subsequent red. The answer is simple: lower Paul, lower. The Springboks and Rassie Erasmus issued a statement this week on adjusting the tackle height in South Africa, and Willemse will do well to read through the words from the country of his birth. He was keen to lay down a marker after missing the initial squad but failed miserably as he was over-eager and possibly not fit enough. 2

4 Paul Gabrillagues: One of the few positives from the game as the lock put in a neat performance typified by his work rate. He also had to pick up his second-row partner’s slack at line-out time which was difficult to say the least. Could be a great option going forward. 6

3 Uini Atonio: The man mountain was a tank in the scrum tonight as he squashed Andrew Porter where possible, exposing one of the very few weaknesses of Ireland. He did not get many chances with ball in hand but his scrummaging earned his wage this evening. 6

2 Peato Mauvaka: Not necessarily his game-breaking best and life was made difficult as he lost one of his line-out targets when Willemse was sent off. However, the hooker imposed himself physically where possible in a decent outing. 5

1 Cyril Baille: Much like his prop partner, Baille got stuck in at scrum time giving his team a chance to leverage the game with penalties. He also managed to get in 11 carries in a busy effort. 6

Replacements: Some of the bench stars showed a bit of promise in Julien Marchand for one, who will be begging to start against Scotland. Nolann Le Garrec added a bit more tempo to France’s attack and Fabien Galthie may be tempted to give him a start against Scotland. 5

READ MORE: Ruthless Ireland make perfect start to Six Nations title defence against 14-man France

Planet Rugby player ratings key

10 – Career defining performance
9 – Outright blockbuster effort
8 – Significantly influenced the result of the game
7 – Committed and effective outing
6 – Flashes of brilliance outside of executing fundamentals
5 – Fulfilling the role required by position (base level)
4 – Poor execution of fundamentals
3 – Costly errors and/or discipline in the game
2 – Poor performance that directly impacted the result
1 – Grossly ineffective throughout
0 – Should have carried water instead