Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Croke Park opens to rugby as Ireland host France in 6N

Croke Park hosts its first Six Nations match this afternoon when Ireland take on France in what's being seen as a possible grand slam decider.

82,000 people will pack into the impressive GAA stadium in Dublin.

Both teams kicked off their campaigns with wins last weekend - Ireland beat Wales 19-9 in the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff last Sunday, scoring three tries and conceding none.

However they are without captain Brian O'Driscoll and Peter Stringer, who picked up hamstring and hand fracture injuries respectively in the course of the win.

Shane Horgan returns from injury in the nick of time to replace O'Driscoll in the midfield - he'll play inside Gordon D'Arcy - and Geordan Murphy's contribution last weekend has earned him a place on the right wing in place of Andrew Trimble.

Isaac Boss makes his championship debut at scrum-half after a good showing in the autumn and Paul O'Connell, who's due a big game, will lead the team on this historic occasion.

France beat Italy 39-3 in Rome last weekend, but more importantly put in an impressive performance ahead of what Bernard Laporte has targeting as their most crucial game of the tournament.

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