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UOG Men’s Rugby captain Aodha Hession reflects on Ireland’s impressive 17-38 win over France in the opening Guinness Six Nations fixture in Marseille

Ireland got their Guinness Six Nations campaign off to a flying start after beating France 17-38 in Marseille last night. University of Gloucestershire’s men’s rugby union club captain and Irishman, Aodha Hession, was “a very happy man in what was always going to be a tricky fixture right at the start of the Six Nations.”

The big talking point of this new-look Irish side is the absence of the recently retired Johnny Sexton and how the team will deal with this. Hession observed his country’s performance and more specifically, the new man in the ten jersey, Jack Crowley. “France on a Friday night always demands the best from sides. A tough one to start with but I was really happy with how Ireland went; Jack Crowley was really good too. Sexton’s boots are big ones to fill but Crowley didn’t look out of place at all last night, and I think he went really well”, explained Hession.

In a post Sexton era for Ireland the doubt always loomed over whoever was to take his place. The Munster man didn’t have the best of starts in the match, being charged down in a dangerous area of the field, he soon found his groove and began to control the game.

“From a supporter’s point of view, you really want to just kick on and have a strong game. With that first charge down, you’re worried for him. You think oh god, is this the start of the downfall without Sexton? In fairness to him he recovered really well. Ireland’s shape looked a little bit different. Not too far off what they were doing in previous years. I think players individual responsibilities are taken very seriously, each player knows their role so well, if they maintain this form with Crowley getting comfortable, it’ll be a joy to watch” said Hession.

Ireland welcome Italy to Dublin next weekend in what is a fixture that is often overlooked by many. However, it’s always a challenging for coaches to navigate their way around selection against the Azzuri. Do you run the risk of an upset by resting key players? Or do you run the risk of potential injuries in an attempt to go full whack?

Hession believes that “it’s a really tricky one to call because I suppose you want forward momentum, which is such an important factor in Six Nations rugby! You want to maintain that as much as you can and not change things up too much. On the other hand, though there’ll be a lot of fringe players hungry for minutes. Those players coming in won’t look too out of place, Andy Farrell has a lot of trust in his squad.” “You don’t want to disrespect any side in the Six Nations. The Italians are a proud side that bring a lot of passion. They could have pipped us in Rome last year so Ireland won’t be taking them lightly at all because Italy offer that ‘what if’ factor”.

Match highlights.

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