France must win against Ireland to keep their title hopes alive but beyond that, this match will also be a real test for them in terms of credibility and a far harsher tie than against England as far as the long-term stakes are concerned.
We have been considered in the past four months as potential World Cup winners and losing at Lansdowne Road would be particularly out of place. Losing against England can be explained, we were allowed one setback against them, but certainly not against Ireland. It would dampen France's confidence and instil a difficult climate within the group.
After years of ups and downs the team have managed to create a certain continuity in their results and work, and it would be a shame to have to start from scratch, especially with the summer tours in New Zealand and Argentina, the friendlies against England, and the World Cup coming up next. A win however would boost everyone's spirits and put the England defeat behind us once and for all.
Ireland, who have a quite terrible fighting spirit, have never been an easy side to beat and in the last two or three years they have become more solid with a better organised defence. If in the past we used to be far better than them with our game plan, this has gradually changed. Players like O'Driscoll and Humphreys are very dangerous.
The absence of Fabien Galthie will also have big effect on the game. Dimitri Yachvili is a very talented scrum-half but might lack leadership. Things will be better for him if the forward pack is more dominant and if we lose less ball. If the players manage to do that, France will win and make Yachvili's life far easier.