Former Ireland centre feels bouncing back could be "watershed" moment
Former Ireland and Leinster international Gordon D'Arcy has highlighted the importance of the way the Irish side beat Italy in their second Six Nations match to bring back a sense of positivity ahead of Saturday's clash against France.
A loss to Scotland on the first weekend left Joe Schmidt's side on the back foot but they have bounced back.
D'Arcy spoke to Off The Ball and explained why he feels that the Italy match was more important to Ireland than the Scotland game.
"I firmly believe that the Italy game was more important than the Scotland game. So win or lose, I always said this championship can still be won with a loss," he said.
"The Scottish game, I don't think we gave Scotland as much credit as they deserved. They played really well and Ireland got a bonus point out of that. An upward trend is very rarely linear. Rarely do you go straight up.
"2016, while a poor Six Nations, was a phenomenal year outside of that - a phenomenal, unprecedented in Irish history - setting records across the board.
"To be able to continue on that upward trend would have been incredible, would have been an even bigger feat almost than 2016, so to come back from that loss against Scotland could be really important, could be a real watershed moment."
He added that Ireland re-established their upward trend with a commanding showing against Italy and that it brings "positivity" into the France game.
France’s Louis Picamoles and Camille Lopez on the final whistle ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
He also feels home advantage, as Ireland will have this weekend, is a benefit for most teams in the Six Nations.
D'Arcy also spoke about the sense from France that the importance of the national team is being elevated again and that there are signs of moves to increase the number of French pool of players featuring in the Top 14.
He also said Guy Noves is the "best coach" Les Bleus can have as they look to resurrect their fortunes.
The former Ireland centre also praised the dynamic French back row of Kevin Gourdon, Louis Picamoles and Loann Goujon.
"But the Irish back row is more than capable of dealing with these guys," he added.