Oval Talk

  • France and Ireland draw, Wales win

    France draw level against Ireland

    Ireland have only won once in France since 1972. That was 12 years ago when Brian O'Driscoll made his name by scoring three tries against a bewildered French team.

    At half-time on Sunday Declan Kidney must have thought that dreadful record was going to come to an end when two Tommy Bowe tries had helped Ireland to a 17-6 lead.

    Bowe was brilliant; first he intercepted a loose pass from Aurelien Rougerie and the second try was a fine solo effort.

    However, come the full-time whistle it was the Wales coach, Warren Gatland, who would have been the happiest of the Six Nations coaches as Les Bleus

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  • Six Nations statistics: Ireland’s poor record against France

    O'Connell: Errors key to outcomeIreland captain Paul O'Connell believes restricting the error count holds the key to dispatching France in the rearranged Six Nations clash in Paris on Sunday.

    The title rivals meet after the original game was postponed three weeks ago due to a frozen pitch.

    O'Connell has lost on all five visits to the Stade de France and painful experience has taught him that the Irish are usually the architects of their own downfall.

    "We've given them soft tries in my time since I've been there," the Munster and Lions lock said. "That's been the most common theme and you just can't do that in Paris.

    "We've

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  • Six Nations Team of Week 3

    Here is Oval Talk's Team of the Week and statistics following the third weekend of Six Nations rugby.

    France's Wesley Fofana (R) celebrates with team-mate Maxime Medard

    15. Leigh Halfpenny, Wales
    The Cardiff Blues star has really impressed this Championship. He was nerveless with his kicking and his defence was outstanding. Halfpenny was the man who put in the tackle to stop Strettle from scoring a try right at the death.

    14. Tommy Bowe, Ireland
    Bowe has not had the greatest Six Nations so far but two tries against Italy has certainly reminded everyone how important he is to Ireland.

    13. Wesley Fofana, France

    Admittedly Fofana was at no.12 but OT had to fit

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  • Six Nations week 3 statistics

    With the Six Nations heading into a third weekend of crucial fixtures, Oval Talk again has the key stats to whet your appetite.

    England face their biggest challenge so far at home to Wales on Saturday after opening victories over Scotland and Italy - and surprisingly have only lost one of their last eight matches.

    Ireland are favourites against Italy, also on Saturday, but have lost their last three games at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

    And Scotland could endure their worst run since 2004 if they lose at home to France on Sunday.

    Peruse the pre-match statistics below:

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  • France-Ireland farce must never be repeated

    Irish fans were left out in the coldIf the farce over the postponed France—Ireland match last weekend teaches us anything, it is that the governing bodies do not give a damn about the fans.

    The French Rugby Federation and the Six Nations Council both agreed on playing the match at nine o'clock on a February evening. Despite the knowledge that the temperature is often sub-zero during February, the authorities that be still went ahead and tried to stage the game on a pitch that does not have undersoil heating.

    It defies logic, unless of course you are pandering to the broadcasters and trying to generate as much money as possible.

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  • Six Nations Team of Week 2

    Here is Oval Talk's Team of the Week and statistics following the second weekend of Six Nations rugby.

    Selected from four teams as France v Ireland was postponed.

    1. Alex Corbisiero (England)
    He is really enjoying being the first-choice number one and should be pleased with this performance. His scrummaging and defence was outstanding and he won the battle against Martin Castrogiovanni.

    2. Ross Ford (Scotland)
    Ford was solid with the ball in hand and was reliable at the lineout. He also put in a good defensive display, making no fewer than nine tackles in what was a very physical game.

    3. Adam

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  • Six Nations week 2 statistics

    With the Six Nations set to continue this weekend, Oval Talk again has the key stats to whet your appetite.

    England will look to make it two wins from two under Stuart Lancaster against Italy in front of 70,000 fans at the Stadio Olimpico.

    France are looking to win a 10th straight home match in the Six Nations against Ireland, also on Saturday.

    And Scotland will look to halt a poor run of results against a Wales side that has traditionally enjoyed success against them.

    Peruse the pre-match statistics below:

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  • Six Nations Team of Week 1

    Here is Oval Talk's Team of the Week and statistics following the first weekend of Six Nations rugby.

    1. Rhys Gill - Wales
    The Welsh pack set the tone early in the match and Gill was simply stupendous in the first half in the scrum as well as the loose.

    2. William Servat - France

    The hooker handled the sustained Italian pressure well with Leonardo Ghiraldini posing him a number of problems. Two of Servat's line-outs were stolen but that did not detract from what was a solid performance.

    3. Martin Castrogiovanni - Italy

    This prop is no ordinary man and he was ferocious in the scrum and at the

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  • Six Nations opening weekend statistics

    The Six Nations gets under way this weekend - and Oval Talk has the key stats to whet your appetite.

    On Saturday a new-look England side featuring three uncapped starters enters the bear-pit that is Murrayfield on Calcutta Cup day.

    Despite a poor tournament record, the Edinburgh stadium is something of a fortress for the Scottish rugby team.

    There is another mouth-watering clash in Ireland on Sunday, with Wales making the short trip across the Irish Sea.

    A repeat of last year's exciting World Cup quarter-final, Ireland will be out for revenge.

    And the first fixture of the weekend features

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  • France favourites for Six Nations

    These are Oval Talk's predictions for the Six Nations, which starts this weekend with England an unknown quantity and France favourites to win the title.

    FRANCE

    Saint-Andre with the Six Nations trophyFor Oval Talk, Les Bleus are the favourites to win this year's tournament. They still have their whole World Cup squad available and with their new coach Philippe Saint-Andre vowing to end France's inconsistent streak, they are the frontrunners.

    Although France have lost to the likes of Italy and Tonga in the last 12 months, their recent Six Nations record is impeccable. In the last decade they have won five championships, including

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