It might seem strange after topping a half-century and running in eight tries but, for centre Jade Ulutule, the key to France’s victory in Ireland was their defence.
And it is that defence that will be crucial in the Women’s Six Nations final against England at Twickenham on Super Saturday.
Ulutule, who was playing her first XVs game of the year for France having previously been with the Sevens set-up at the recent Dubai 7s, played her part in a convincing 56-15 success.
Despite a nervy first ten minutes, Les Bleues hit their stride to run in five first-half tries, adding three more against the wind to seal a place in the final.
Ireland managed two tries of their own, both from rolling mauls, but Ulutule felt overall France’s defence really showed up against an Irish team who were coming off the back of a thumping win in Wales.
Speaking on The Nick and Mo Show on Instagram, Ulutule said: “We went to Ireland, we knew it would be a very tough game because it’s never easy in Ireland to play against them on their pitch.
“Every time it’s hard to win in Ireland and after the game they had against Wales and the big victory, we knew it was going to be a very tough game and if we wanted to get to the final we would have to work hard. It was very tough for the first ten minutes, a lot of pressure and we made a couple of mistakes and Ireland played very well. It was hard but it was good for us.
“I think we were very strong in defence and we scored tries from turnovers and a try after a scrum. There was a lot of defending and we can take confidence from that ahead of next week.
“It’s going to be very hard because against England it’s always a good game and a tough game. We have to work hard on our defence against England because they have a lot of very good players. They have strong girls so the key is our defence.”
Ulutule made her name for France playing at scrum-half but has since switched to the centres.
That positional change has been influenced by her Sevens commitments, with the 28-year-old finding it easier to slot back into the midfield.
Against Ireland, that integration was helped by having Sevens teammates Caroline Drouin and Carla Neisen either side of her.
She added: “I think it’s easier for me to play centre because I come back from the Sevens and it’s maybe easier to make the right decisions in the centres. It’s a position with fewer big decisions to make.
“When you’re at half-back it’s very different and I don’t have as much game time there so it’s easier to play centre. Also I play with my Sevens teammates there which makes it easier for me.”
While England have had the better of recent meetings with France, winning the last seven encounters between the two, many have gone down to the wire, including a match-winning last-minute penalty from Emily Scarratt at Twickenham the last time the teams faced off.
And Ulutule was part of the France midfield in 2018 when they last beat England in the Women’s Six Nations, on the way to taking the title.