Andy Farrell, Ireland’s coach, believes that next weekend’s match against France in Paris will be the “test of all tests” for his promising team.
With a dominant 29-7 victory over Wales on the opening day, Farrell’s team laid down an ominous marker for their Six Nations rivals.
Ireland’s commanding performance in Dublin piqued interest ahead of their trip to the Stade de France — and what already appears to be a title decider.
“Everyone knows how well France are playing There is no doubt about it, it is the test of all tests at this moment in time,’ said Farrell.
The match takes place two years after Ireland lost 35-27 in Paris, denying them the chance to win the 2020 European Championship.
They return on the heels of a nine-game winning streak, and Farrell believes this will be the litmus test for Ireland’s progress.
‘The great test for this group is we learned a lot of lessons about ourselves in Paris on that night,’ said Farrell.
‘It was a big game when we could have got across the line for the Six Nations and we didn’t deliver on the big stage. I feel the group has grown since then. I suppose the proof will be in the pudding.’
They head to France buoyed by their bonus-point victory over Wales. ‘You are always hungry to get off to a good start and we have managed to do that,’ said Farrell.
‘We will prepare properly for the French test.’
Despite their display, Ireland’s coach still spotted room for improvement.
‘Sometimes I thought we overplayed. We certainly did for the Welsh first try,’ said Farrell.
James Hume, who made his Six Nations debut, added: ‘It’s obviously a huge challenge away to France and it would be huge to get a win. That would obviously fuel momentum but it is a huge job.’