Ireland player ratings: Rookies shine in epic victory over France in Six Nations opener

Jared Wright
Jack Crowley and Joe McCarthy during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Orange Velodrome in Marseille.

Jack Crowley and Joe McCarthy during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Orange Velodrome in Marseille.

Following Ireland’s 38-17 victory over France in Marseille to kick off their Six Nations title defence, here is how we rated Andy Farrell’s charges.

Ireland player ratings

15 Hugo Keenan: What you’d expect from the most consistent full-back in the game. He had little to shout about this time around but ticked the boxes and kicked well. 6

14 Calvin Nash: He was delighted to get on the scoreboard, and rightly so, after keeping his width smartly despite the lure of supporting further infield. Hardly put a foot wrong on either side of the ball and comfortably filled Mack Hansen’s void, which is saying something. 7

13 Robbie Henshaw: Strong and steady is what you get from the experienced midfielder, and he did not disappoint in the Six Nations‘ opener. He made good decisions on both sides of the ball and put in a tidy shift. 6

12 Bundee Aki: Picked up from where he left off in 2023 with another cracking performance in the heart of the midfield. France struggled to contain him as Ireland punched right through the middle of their defence. He showed off his softer skills to set up the opening try, superb. 9

11 James Lowe: His kicking gave Ireland a massive territorial advantage as he boomed his side out of some tricky situations. Shone when he did get ball in hand and had a strong outing all in all. 7


10 Jack Crowley: Charged down in the early stages of the match but had the short-term memory of a goldfish as he just kept keeping on. He attacked a lot flatter and more directly than what we saw from his predecessor, and despite the pressure of filling Johnny Sexton’s boots, he rose to the occasion. Nailed some great kicks after missing a relatively simple one. 8

9 Jamison Gibson-Park: Set the tone with his lightning-quick service and ran an excellent support line to score the opening try of the Championship. Slick, effective and efficient. 7

Loose trio

8 Caelan Doris: Took his fine form with Leinster into the green jersey. An outstanding offload led to Nash’s score while he was regularly taking several bodies with him when he took the ball to the line. He just continues to show his class. 8

7 Josh van der Flier: A bit off-colour compared to his lofty standards, missing four tackles and didn’t win a turnover. He did pester the breakdown and was solid with his carries and good with the ball in hand, but overall, it was a mild start to the Test season. 5

6 Peter O’Mahony: The new skipper for the Six Nations had an outstanding first half as he got stuck into the French pack in all facets of the game. He was also superb in disrupting France’s lineout. He did visit the sin bin for collapsing a maul, although he would likely gamble in that situation again if given the chance. 6

Tight five

5 Tadhg Beirne: Reminded those calling for James Ryan to start ahead of him exactly what he is capable of. He scored a wonderful try running a neat line off of Crowley, made life difficult for the French lineout, and was secure on his own ball while also doing all the non-flashy graft work in the breakdown and defensively. 8

4 Joe McCarthy: Quite simply, Ireland have finally found a long-term tighthead lock. Thrown into the mixer of facing a mammoth French pack in his first Six Nations start, he laid down a marker in everything he did. There were a few errors along the way, including a knock-on and soft penalty, but far more positives than negatives as Ireland’s locking stocks look incredibly healthy. 9

3 Tadhg Furlong: A tough evening in the scrums along with his fellow prop, more on Porter in a bit, and while he wasn’t the biggest issue in the scrum, Cyril Baille did get the better of him. He was busy in the rucks and mauls and was used as a link man rather than a carrier. 5

2 Dan Sheehan: Full marks with his lineout darts despite the threats that France had, got good metres from his carries taking multiple defenders with him. He also got on the scoresheet and made all of his tackles. He has to take some blame for the struggles in the scrum, though. 7

1 Andrew Porter: For all his excellence around the park, he is still a liability in the scrums and was taught another lesson from Uini Atonio, who dominated him in the set-piece. Ticked the boxes in open play but not in the scrum. 5

Replacements: Played their part to see the game out and crucially deny France a losing bonus point. 6

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