Ireland’s success comes as Six Nations brand grows to become a €4 billion business

Despite the growth of the international game, the domestic leagues in Europe are in turmoil

Calvin Nash of Ireland, celebrates with team-mates Jamison Gibson-Park, and Andrew Porter after scoring their side’s third try in Friday nights game. Picture: Getty

Ireland’s bid to retain the grand slam and the Six Nations Championship prize of €7 million got off to the best possible start with a record 38-17 victory over France in Marseilles on Friday night.

In a physically dominant performance, Ireland began the post-Johnny Sexton era and head into the second round of the tournament as firm favourites to emerge as winners come March.