Labit, analysing Ireland’s victory over France for French newspaper, L’Equipe, was hugely impressed by Sexton’s play-making performance after a 12 week lay-off.
However he has concerns that the manner in which Sexton approaches tackle can leave him open to more and more head injuries.
“He was very good in his play-making (but) defensively he has a problem that all the Irish have. They come at you in the tackle with their heads very high. His concussions come from that. Unfortunately, I fear he will suffer more of them.”
Though Ireland were victorious, Labit still found some flaws in the performance. “Ireland are a super team with a good balance, technically they are very precise. But they can be a bit rigid when they have a five-on-four or a three-on-two. They lack creativity. But it is harsh to criticise a side that has won nine in a row.”
There was much angst amongst French analysts. What upset the critics most is that they could, and according to some should, have won given their domination when the heavy guns Vincent Debaty, Uini Atonio and Romain Taofifenua came on in the second half.
“Another Opportunity Missed,” lamented L’Equipe. “Indisciplined and beaten in Ireland, the Blues showed hardly any progress and remain a cause for concern.”
The paper continued: “France will leave Dublin with a sense of deja-vu after producing a similar kind of match as before (against Scotland) with the same lack of detail, the same knock-ons, the same inability to score when on top or with a man-advantage, the same attacking profligacy.”
Yoann Maestri was the only Frenchman to be awarded more than five out of 10 for their performance at the Aviva — Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe the only Irishmen to rate under five. Maestri’s fellow lock Pascal Papé rated just three with his yellow card for kneeing Jamie Heaslip roundly criticised.
“It may cost him dear,” says L’Equipe. “Perhaps through the citing commission but also his place with Les Bleus. The entry of Roman Taofifelua was a lot more interesting.”
However former France captain Fabien Galthié struck a bullish note when he suggested there was nothing between the two teams. “The last 25 minutes were completely in favour of France. At the end of the match, Ireland had nothing really to hang on to other than this confidence that they’ve built up thanks to their series of victories. But this team is not above us. We saw its limitations, particularly in the line-outs.”