Betting: France to start fast and silence Six Nations doubters

 
Ben Cleminson
France v Ireland - RBS Six Nations
France have the chance to cause an upset as they face Ireland on the opening weekend of the Six Nations (Source: Getty)

Never write off France.

Given all the issues in French rugby right now, winning their first Six Nations title since 2010 doesn’t appear to be on the cards and the bookmakers agree at around 20/1.

They’re a young side under new management and, having failed to win any of their seven games since last year’s tournament, the odds are stacked against them.

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But Les Bleus have an knack of turning up for games when it really matters, and when Ireland take to the field in Paris on Saturday with La Marseillaise ringing around the Stade de France you may as well toss the formbook out of the window.

They were cast aside last year as 20/1 outsiders but won both their games at home and came to within three points of denying England a win at Twickenham.

Under new guidance and with plenty of hunger from a youthful setup, Jacques Brunel’s side are worth backing at 9/4 to cause an early scare on Saturday.

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Guilhem Guirado and Rabah Slimani bring experience and reliability to an otherwise youthful French team – 27 of the 32-man squad are under 25 – while the likes of Virimi Vakatawa and 19-year-old fly-half Matthieu Jalibert bring plenty of flair to the backs.

At 6ft 8in and 20st, second-row Sebastien Vahaamahin adds some valuable bulk to the engine room too and the Irish will certainly find their match if they opt to keep things tight.

If Ireland do reward favourite-backers then it probably won’t be pretty and the 9/2 on offer for Ireland to win by between 1-5 points looks a good insurance bet.

Pointers

France - 9/4 (188BET)

Ireland by 1-5 points - 9/2 (General)

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