Former Ireland international Paula Fitzpatrick has dismissed the idea that money is the difference between the Irish and French national teams.

Les Bleus came to Dublin on Saturday and emerged 41-point winners in their Six Nations clash to send their hosts into the 3rd/4th place play-off this weekend.

The visitors scored eight tries and Ireland simply couldn't deal with a clinical and intense performance from France.

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It led to a discussion on RTÉ's Against the Head around the amateur nature of the national team in this country, versus the semi-professional status in France.

But Fitzpatrick, who spent a season in France with Toulouse, said it's not just about how much money is spent.

"You can talk about that whole professionalism versus amateur thing," she began, "but in France's context I think more is made of that semi-professional status than is actually reality.

"They all still have jobs (outside of rugby). Yes, they get extra time off around tournaments and they get some payment, but it's not a lot. It's not that their full-time career is rugby.

"They get extra sessions with skill coaches during the week which Ireland players don't get. In between matches they get to go to Marcoussis (French national training centre) and recover, and prepare, and stay together.

"It's not that they're a fully professional set up and it's not the case that money is the factor - it's numbers. France have such a mass of people playing the game.

She concluded, "from playing over there you see the whole community gets behind the team. It doesn't matter if you're a man, woman or child playing rugby in France - they will support you.

"The whole community is behind it (and) it's part of who they are. It's part of their culture there."

Speaking on the same programme Bernard Jackman, who also worked in France with Grenoble in the Top 14, echoed Fitzpatrick's sentiments.

"I spoke to a coach in France who said that the growth has been in the small villages and towns where they couldn't finance a Pro D2 (men's second tier) or Top 14.

"The competition structure showed that if you start in Division 4 you can build a club to compete at national level. There's reward there for performance and you move up the ranks and suddenly you've a town or village that's famous for their women's rugby team.

"The FFR have now put pressure on the Top 14 and Pro D2 clubs to start to bring those clubs in. So Stade Toulousain and Montpellier are the strongest clubs now.

"It came from the grassroots and small towns where the game is played for six or seven years of age."