France rarely start a Six Nations in anything but crisis and with a new coach in place in the shape of Jacques Brunel, this yer is no different.
Brunel has named six uncapped players in his matchday 23 – and that includes Matthieu Jalibert making his debut at fly-half.
Opposite him, Johnny Sexton is a far more experienced player although the No 10 still has question marks over his ability to handle a highly physical encounter – but coach Joe Schmidt has already said he does not expect Brunel to target him unfairly as other sides have done.
How will it turn out? Express Sport brings all the action everything from the Stade de France.
France 0 – Ireland 6 LIVE
5.10pm: France give up another good position in the Ireland 22 by not feeding the ball straight at the scrum (I LOVE that referees are calling that now) and then concede a penalty up the other end by going off their feet at the breakdown.
Sexton knocks over another very simple kick to double Ireland’s lead.
5pm: Compared to the frentic, end-to-end start to Wales vs Scotland, this is much more cagey. Ireland get into the 22 once again after regaining a high kick – expect plenty of them aimed at new cap full-back Geoffrey Palis – but sloppiness costs them.
France too make some in-roads but a loose kick from Vakatawa loses them possession. Territory the key battle early on and it’s pretty even.
4.50pm: A near-perfect start for Ireland as Keith Earls makes good ground on the right hand side and Ireland eventually force a penalty which Johnny Sexton slots with ease. That should settle a few nerves in green shirts if there are any playing in this often-intimidating atmosphere.
4.45pm: Les Marseilles rings around the Stade de France with all the optimism that comes with a new coach and new fly-half. We’ll see if it’s misplaced.
France to kick-off as Nigel Owens gets us going.
4.30pm: Let’s just check the teams before these 46 men trot out for the anthems. Plenty of unfamiliar names in the France team but Virimi Vakatawa is a real weapon on the wing and Jalibert will rely on his physicality you would think, while he himself might have eyes only for Sexton in the early stages.
CJ Stander has a big role to play today too – what a 12 months he has had both for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions.
France: Palis; Thomas, Lamerat, Chavancy, Vakatawa; Jalibert, Machenaud; Poirot, Guirado (capt), Slimani, Iturria, Vahaamahina, Lauret, Gourdon.
Replacements: Pelissie, Priso, Gomes Sa, Gabrillagues, Tauleigne, Dupont, Belleau, Fall.
Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best (capt), Furlong; Henderson, James Ryan; O’Mahony, Van der Flier, Stander.
Replacements: Cronin, J McGrath, John Ryan, Toner, Leavy, L McGrath, Carbery, McFadden.
4.15pm: If you’re a Scotland fan, we understand if you just want to take a few minutes to sit in the corner and contemplate. We get it. That was a brutal 34-7 thrashing in Cardiff, with the only Scottish score coming in the dying minutes.
I hope this intriguing match in Paris might distract you disappointed Scots. Matthieu Jalibert is 19 and he is making his debut at fly-half which should be exciting to watch. Will it go badly wrong or will this be the birth of a new star? I can’t wait to see it – he’s done some thrilling things for Bordeaux.