“The competition is just getting started, so we’ll lick our wounds and learn from what was a combative and spirited performance. At the same time, we’ll be honest with each other and make sure we learn from a bit decisions we’ve made along the way.” -Andy Farrell
Last update: 2/12/22 8:54 p.m.
Andy Farrell insists ‘the competition has only just begun’ after France moved into pole position for Six Nations glory with a thrilling 30-24 win over Ireland in Paris.
The Irish played their part in an exciting evening of free-flowing rugby at a boisterous Stade de France but ultimately fell short after a sloppy start as their winning streak came to an end at nine games.
France captain Antoine Dupont scored the first try after just 67 seconds and Farrell’s side trailed 22-7 going into the second period.
Quick scores from Josh van der Flier and Jamison Gibson-Park in the second half, after Mack Hansen’s first Test try early on, got the Irish back in the running.
Yet the indiscipline ultimately proved costly as six penalties from Melvyn Jaminet, plus a second-half try from Cyril Baille, helped the Blues take a giant step towards a first title since 2010.
As the contest was touted as a potential decider early in the championship, Farrell was proud of his players’ efforts and refused to be deterred.
“It’s hard to bear when you made such a difficult change, especially with the fight and the character we had to come back,” said the Ireland head coach.
“At the end of the day, two good sides come into it; [at] 22-7 down, people might have thought that was too far, but these guys didn’t. Their character shone and certainly their physical form shone.
“The competition is obviously slightly in favor of France, two home games they have played and two wins for them.
“But the competition is just getting started, so we’ll lick our wounds and learn from what was a combative and spirited performance.
“At the same time, we’ll be honest with each other and make sure we learn from a few decisions we’ve made along the way.
“The result doesn’t lie, congratulations to France – they deserved the win because that’s what the scoreline tells us.”
Ireland arrived in the French capital unbeaten since losing to Les Bleus at the weekend last year, but without the services of injured skipper Johnny Sexton.
Joey Carbery replaced Sexton to make his first Six Nations start, while lock James Ryan took over as captain.
The Munster Carbery fly-half – who has endured an injury nightmare in recent years – produced a flawless kicking display, notching three conversions and setting up a grandstand finish by netting a 73rd-minute penalty for temporarily reduce the Irish deficit to three points.
Farrell praised the performance of his substitute number 10 and dismissed suggestions that the team should have gone for contact with seven minutes to go, rather than taking the three points.
“It’s the right decision, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
“They [the players] are in the moment, they understand what is happening, there was plenty of time left. I support them in making these calls.”
Speaking of Carbery, he added: “I thought he was excellent. Obviously everyone was curious to see how Joey was going to make his first start but that didn’t surprise us.
“He was very confident and very assured in his performance. He hit the goal beautifully and I think he controlled the game pretty well for us.”