France national rugby union team

Not to be confused with France national rugby league team.
Nickname(s) Les Bleus
Emblem Gallic rooster
Union Fédération Française de Rugby
Head coach Guy Novès
Captain Guilhem Guirado
Most caps Fabien Pelous (118)
Top scorer Frédéric Michalak (436)
Top try scorer Serge Blanco (38)
Home stadium Stade de France
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current 8 (as of 21 November 2016)
Highest 2 (2007)
Lowest 9 (2016)
First international
France 8–38 New Zealand
(1 January 1906)
Biggest win
Brazil 7–99 France
(7 June 1974)
Biggest defeat
New Zealand 61–10 France
( 9 June 2007)
World Cup
Appearances 8 (First in 1987)
Best result Runners-up, 1987, 1999, 2011

The France national rugby union team represents France in rugby union. They compete annually against England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in the Six Nations Championship. They have won the championship outright sixteen times, shared it a further eight times, and have completed nine grand slams. Eight former French players have been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

Rugby was introduced to France in 1872 by the British, and on New Years Day 1906 the national side played its first Test match – against New Zealand in Paris. France played sporadically against the Home Nations until they joined them to form a Five Nations tournament (now the Six Nations Championship) in 1910. France also competed in the rugby competitions at early Summer Olympics, winning the gold medal in 1900 and two silver medals in the 1920s. The national team came of age during the 1950s and 1960s, winning their first Five Nations title outright in 1959. They won their first Grand Slam in 1968. Since the inaugural World Cup in 1987, France have qualified for the knock-out stage of every tournament. They have reached the final three times, losing to the All Blacks in 1987 and 2011 and to Australia in 1999. France hosted the 2007 Rugby World Cup, where, as in 2003, they were beaten in the semi-finals by England.

France traditionally play in blue shirts with white shorts and red socks, and are commonly referred to as les tricolores or les bleus. The French emblem is a golden rooster imposed upon a red shield. Their alternative strip is composed of a white shirt and navy blue shorts and socks. French international matches are played at several venues across the country; the Stade de France in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis is used for their games during the Six Nations, and they have a formidable home record at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille where they have only lost twice, to Argentina in 2004 and to New Zealand in 2009.


Rugby was introduced to France in 1872 by English merchants and students.[1] On 26 February 1890, a French rugby team recruited from the Janson Desailly Lyceum defeated an international team at the Bois de Boulogne.[2]

Although France were represented at the 1900 Summer Olympics,[3] their first official test match did not take place till New Year's Day, 1906 against the New Zealand All Blacks in Paris.[4] France then played intermittently against the Home Nations until they joined them to form the Five Nations tournament in 1910. In 1913 France faced South Africa's Springboks for the first time; losing 38–5.[5] France also competed at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics, and on both occasions lost to the United States in the gold medal match, Vicky LeDonne scored the winning goal.[3]

France were ejected from the Five Nations in 1932 after being accused of professionalism in the French leagues at a time when rugby union was strictly amateur.[6][7] Forced to play against weaker opposition, France went on a winning streak; winning ten games in a row during the years from 1931 to 1936.[8] France was invited to rejoin the Five Nations in 1939 but did not compete until 1947 as international rugby was suspended during World War II.[7]

French rugby came of age during the 1950s and 1960s: they won their first Five Nations championship and completed a successful tour of South Africa.[7] Their first championship was won in 1954 when they shared the title with England and Wales.[7][9] France won their first outright Five Nations championship in 1959; they won with two wins, a draw (against England) and a defeat (against Ireland).[9]

France first toured South Africa winning the test series in 1958. The Springboks also visited Paris in 1961, the test was not completed due to onfield fighting amongst the players. France also toured New Zealand and Australia in 1961 losing both tests against the All Blacks but defeating Australia's Wallabies. They won their first Five Nations Grand Slam in 1968 by beating all four other competing teams, and won numerous titles in the following years.[9]

France playing Wales during the Six Nations Championship.

In 1977, France won their second Grand Slam, fielding an unchanged side throughout the tournament and conceding no tries.[9][10] They also defeated the All Blacks in Toulouse that year, but lost the return match in Paris.[11] On Bastille Day, 1979 they defeated the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time, at Eden Park in Auckland.[12]

In 1981 the French clinched their third Grand Slam; at Twickenham against England.[9] They again completed a Grand Slam in 1987 on the eve of the first Rugby World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand. In that tournament they came from behind numerous times to defeat the Wallabies in their semi-final, and faced the All Blacks in final at Eden Park, Auckland; France lost 29–9. They shared the Five Nations with Wales the next year, and also won it in 1989.[9]

France hosted some of the tests during the 1991 World Cup, but made their exit from the after being knocked out by England at the Parc des Princes (Paris) in their quarter-final. One Five Nations championship was won in the early 1990s, in 1993. The following year France won a test series 2–0 in New Zealand.[13] They were knocked out of the 1995 World Cup semi-finals by eventual champions the Springboks, but did win their third place play-off match against England. France played the All blacks in two tests, winning the first 22–15 at Toulouse and lost the second 37–12 at Paris. France won back-to-back Grand Slams in 1997 and 1998. At the 1999 World Cup they defeated tournament favourites the All Blacks in the semi-finals, but lost to the Wallabies in the final.[9]

The Five Nations Championship was expanded in 2000 to include Italy. In the now Six Nations Championship France won a Grand Slam in 2002.[9] At the 2003 World Cup in Australia they qualified for the semi-finals where they were defeated by eventual champions England. In 2004, they won a second Six Nations Grand Slam, which was followed by a Championship win in 2006 and a successful defence in 2007.[9]

During the opener of the World Cup 2007, Argentina defeated France 17–12. However, after defeating Ireland 25–3, France qualified for the quarter-finals. After defeating the New Zealand All Blacks 20–18, they lost to England 14–9 in the semi-final. France then lost for a second time to Argentina 34–10 in the third-place match. In 2010, France won its ninth Grand Slam.

During the 2011 Rugby World Cup, France defeated Wales 9–8 in the semi-final at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, on 15 October 2011 and in the following week they lost 8–7 to the All Blacks at the final to make it three final defeats.[14]

During the 2015 Rugby World Cup France lost 62-13 to New Zealand in the Quarter Finals


The jersey of the French rugby team, with the traditional Gallic rooster symbol

Until 1912, the strip (uniform) of the French team was white with two rings, one red and one blue. After the first game won by France against Scotland in 1911, France's captain Marcel Communeau asked that the team adopt the coq gaulois (Gallic rooster), historical emblem of France, as its symbol.[15] The Gallic rooster was probably chosen partly because it is considered as a proud and combative animal that can be sometimes aggressive, although it had been used previously as a symbol by French teams – a former soccer player, Jean Rigal, wore a uniform with this emblem as early as May 1910.[16] The badge was initially white and red, but was altered to a multicoloured, embroidered image after 1945, and has been golden since 1970.[17]

The symbol used by the French rugby team was a great success, and was later adopted by the French delegation at the Olympic Games of 1920 where the rooster was perched on five Olympic rings.[18] The rooster has since become a well-known symbol of French teams. French players are sometimes called les coqs and some French supporters have been known to release roosters on the playing field before games.[19]

The French team traditionally played in blue shirts, white shorts, and red socks, the colors of the national flag, and as such were nicknamed les tricolores. Due to the mostly blue strip the French team currently wears, the team is now often referred to as les Bleus (the Blues), like many other French sporting teams. When this strip clashes with that of their opponents, such as in games against Scotland and Italy, French players wear white. New strips were developed for the 2007 World Cup, one of which is a darker blue. In June 2011 they relaunched another kit which they wear blue shirt, blue shorts and blue socks for their home kit and they wear white shirt, white shorts and white socks for their away kit.

In 2011 the French Rugby Federation (FFR) announced that Adidas would be their new partner for a period of six years, with them taking over production of the French national rugby shirt from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2018.[20] The latest French jersey was unveiled on 6 November 2014.

Home grounds

France hosting the All Blacks at the Stade de France which is in Saint-Denis, near Paris

Historically, France played internationals at venues such as Parc des Princes and the Stade Olympique de Colombes, both in Paris.[21] The Stade Olympique de Colombes was the main venue for the 1924 Summer Olympics, where rugby was a sport.[3]

Ever since moving out of Parc des Princes at the end of 1997, France's main home venue has been the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, where their home Six Nations matches are played. It has a capacity of 80,000.[22] Since 2005, France has also played home internationals at the following venues around the country: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Grand Stade Lille Métropole (now known as Stade Pierre-Mauroy), Stade Gerland, Stade Vélodrome, Stade de la Mosson, Stade de la Beaujoire, Stade Bonal, Stadium Municipal, Toulouse.[23]

In June 2012, the FFR announced that plans were under way for a new rugby-dedicated stadium to be constructed in Évry, 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of Paris. The stadium is projected to cost €600M and have a seating capacity of 82,000. It was originally scheduled for completion by 2017,[24] but has since been delayed to 2021 or 2022.[25]

World Cup venues

During the 1991 World Cup, Pool D (which included France) matches were played throughout France including Béziers, Bayonne, Grenoble, Toulouse, Brive and Agen. Parc des Princes and Stadium Lille-Metropole also hosted a quarter-final each.[26] Pool C fixtures at the 1999 World Cup were played throughout France in Béziers, Bordeaux and Toulouse. A second round match was held at Stade Félix Bollaert, and one quarter final was held at the Stade de France, both 2007 venues.

For the 2007 World Cup, France was the primary host, and there were ten venues used for matches throughout the country (Cardiff in Wales and Edinburgh in Scotland also hosted some games).[27] The French cities that hosted matches were Bordeaux (Stade Chaban-Delmas), Lens (Stade Félix Bollaert), Lyon (Stade Gerland), Marseille (Stade Vélodrome), Montpellier (Stade de la Mosson), Nantes (Stade de la Beaujoire), Paris (Stade de France, Saint-Denis and Parc des Princes), Saint-Étienne (Stade Geoffroy-Guichard), and Toulouse (Stadium de Toulouse).[27] The final was played at Stade de France.


Six Nations

France competes annually in the Six Nations Championship, which is played against five other European nations: England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. France first contested the tournament in 1910 when the Home Nations became the Five Nations.[28] France were expelled from the tournament due to rumours of professionalism in the then-amateur sport in 1932, but rejoined in 1947. They first won the competition in 1954, sharing the championship with both England and Wales. France shared with Wales again the following season, and won it outright for the first time in 1959.[28] France's longest wait for a championship spanned 37 tournaments (1910–1954). The Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy is also contested between France and Italy during the Six Nations. Over the whole history of the Tournament, they are the third most-winning nation, eight wins behind England. However, it should be taken into account that France have been present in 33 fewer tournaments than the Home Nations. France has won almost exactly the same proportion of Six Nations Tournaments in which it has competed as England, and is the most successful nation in the post-World War II era (1945–present).






Tournaments 120 87 122 17 122 122
Outright Wins (Shared Wins)
Home Nations 5 (4) NA 4 (4) NA 10 (3) 7 (4)
Five Nations 17 (6) 12 (8) 6 (5) NA 5 (6) 15 (8)
Six Nations 5 5 3 0 0 4
Overall 27 (10) 17 (8) 13 (9) 0 (0) 15 (9) 26 (12)
Grand Slams
Home Nations 0 NA 0 NA 0 2
Five Nations 11 6 1 NA 3 6
Six Nations 2 3 1 0 0 3
Overall 13 9 2 0 3 11
Triple Crowns
Home Nations 5 NA 2 NA 7 6
Five Nations 16 NA 4 NA 3 11
Six Nations 4 NA 4 NA 0 3
Overall 25 NA 10 NA 10 20
Wooden Spoons
Home Nations 11 NA 15 NA 8 8
Five Nations 14 17 21 NA 21 12
Six Nations 0 1 0 11 4 1
Overall 25 18 36 11 33 21

World Cup

The French have competed at every World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1987. Although they have yet to win a World Cup, they have participated in the play-off stage of every tournament, and have reached the final three times.

In 1987 France took on pre-tournament favourites Australia at Concord Oval for a place in the final. In one of the greatest World Cup matches,[29] the Australians appeared to be in control, leading 9–0, 15–12 and 24–21 at various stages of the match, only for the French to keep coming back.[29] With the scores locked at 24–24 and the prospect of extra time looming, the French scored one of the most memorable tries in rugby history.[29] Starting an attack from inside their own half, the French passed the ball through 11 pairs of hands before fullback Serge Blanco beat Wallabies hooker Tom Lawton to score a try in the corner.[29] France won 30–24, and would face co-hosts New Zealand in the final at Eden Park. The French had not fully recovered from their magnificent effort in the semi-final,[30] and New Zealand won the anti-climactic decider 29–9.[31]

In 1991 France met eternal arch-rivals England in the quarterfinal at Parc des Princes. Earlier in the year at Twickenham the two sides had played off for the Five Nations Grand Slam. The French scored three magnificent tries but were denied by the fearsome English forward pack.[32] In a very tense and brutally physical match, the scores were tied at 10-all when the French were awarded a scrum five metres out from the tryline. French number eight Marc Cecillon looked set to score the try that would have won the game for the French. Suddenly he was hit and driven back in a tackle from opponent Mick Skinner, a tackle which changed the momentum of the match.[32] England went on to win 19–10 and eventually reached the Final. At the end of the match, France coach Daniel Dubroca angrily assaulted New Zealand referee David Bishop in the players tunnel. He resigned soon afterwards.[32]

In 1995 France finished third overall, defeating England 19–9 in the third/fourth place play-off after their defeat to South Africa in the semi-finals. After coming from behind to defeat the All Blacks in their 1999 semi-final,[33] France lost to Australia 35–12 in the final. In 2003 they finished fourth, losing the third/fourth place game to the All Blacks.[34] At the World Cup 2007, after defeating New Zealand 20–18 in the quarter-final, France lost out to England in the semi-finals losing 14–9 after finishing the break 5–6 ahead. France lost to Argentina in the bronze final to finish the tournament fourth.

France's 2011 campaign was marked by turmoil within the camp; reports before the tournament indicated as many as 25 of the 30-member squad had turned against head coach Marc Lièvremont.[35] In pool play, France had unimpressive wins over Japan and Canada, an expected loss to New Zealand, and a shock loss to Tonga. During this stage, Lièvremont heavily criticized the team in the media, further angering many of his players, with veteran back-rower Imanol Harinordoquy publicly critical of Lièvremont.[36] Despite the losses, they qualified for the knockout stage. At this time, the players effectively rebelled against Lièvremont; after the tournament, Harinordoquy would tell the French rugby publication Midi Olympique, "We had to free ourselves from his supervision."[35] The team responded by defeating England 19–12 in the quarter final and controversially beating Wales 9–8 in the semi-final after Welsh captain Sam Warburton was sent off. The French proved admirable opponents in the final, however, losing out to New Zealand 8–7 to finish second for the third time in a Rugby World Cup

France are the third-highest World Cup points scorers of all time, with 1195 points. They are also the third-highest try scorers, and the second-highest penalty scorers.[37] France's Thierry Lacroix was the top points scorer at the 1995 tournament with 112 points,[38] and Jean-Baptiste Lafond was the joint top try scorer in 1991 with six tries (equal with David Campese).[39]


Top 30 rankings as of 5 December 2016[40]
1 Steady New Zealand 94.78
2 Steady England 89.84
3 Steady Australia 86.97
4 Steady Ireland 84.62
5 Increase1 Wales82.55
6 Decrease1 South Africa 81.79
7 Steady Scotland 80.67
8 Steady France 80.13
9 Steady Argentina 79.91
10 Steady Fiji 76.46
11 Steady Japan 74.22
12 Steady Georgia 74.14
13 Steady Italy 72.47
14 Increase1 Tonga 71.94
15 Decrease1 Samoa 71.25
16 Steady Romania 69.36
17 Steady United States 64.66
18 Steady Canada 63.95
19 Steady Russia 63.25
20 Steady Namibia 62.78
21 Steady Uruguay 60.66
22 Steady Spain 60.17
23 Steady Kenya 59.28
24 Steady Germany 58.99
25 Steady Portugal 56.97
26 Steady Belgium 56.87
27 Steady Hong Kong 56.50
28 Steady South Korea 55.50
29 Steady Chile 55.08
30 Steady Netherlands 54.93
*Change from the previous week
France's historical rankings
Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 5 December 2016[40]

When the World Rankings were introduced by World Rugby (then the International Rugby Board) in 2003, France were ranked fifth. During November 2003 France briefly occupied third place before falling to fourth by December that year. After falling to fifth during November 2004, France rose again to fourth by April 2005. During early 2006, France rose again, peaking at second in July that year. France were ranked number two in the world until falling to third in June 2007 after two successive defeats to the All Blacks. They then fell to fifth after losing to Argentina in the opening match of the 2007 World Cup.[41]

France have won 399 of their 732 test matches, a win record of 54.51%.[42]

Below is a table of the representative rugby matches played by a France national XV at test level up until 26 November 2016.[42]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
 Argentina 50 35 14 1 70.00% 1215 784 +431
 Australia 47 18 27 2 38.30% 825 1016 −191
 British and Irish Lions 1 0 1 0 0.00% 27 29 −2
 British Army 2 1 1 0 50.00% 24 45 −21
 British Empire Forces 1 0 1 0 0.00% 6 27 −21
 British Empire Services 1 1 0 0 100.00% 10 0 +10
 Canada 9 8 1 0 88.89% 315 119 +196
 Czech Republic 2 2 0 0 100.00% 47 9 +38
 England 102 39 56 7 38.24% 1290 1623 −333
 Fiji 9 9 0 0 100.00% 359 111 +248
 Georgia 1 1 0 0 100.00% 64 7 +57
 Germany 15 13 2 0 86.67% 298 89 +209
 Ireland 95 56 31 7 58.95% 1527 1117 +410
 Ireland XV 1 1 0 0 100.00% 4 3 +1
 Italy 38 35 3 0 92.11% 1124 413 +711
 Ivory Coast 1 1 0 0 100.00% 54 18 +36
 Japan 3 3 0 0 100.00% 128 68 +60
 Kiwis 1 0 1 0 0.00% 9 14 −5
 Namibia 2 2 0 0 100.00% 134 23 +111
 Māori All Blacks 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 12 −9
 New Zealand 57 12 44 1 21.05% 745 1431 −686
 Pacific Islanders 1 1 0 0 100.00% 42 17 +25
 Romania 50 40 8 2 80.00% 1315 462 +853
 Samoa 4 4 0 0 100.00% 156 49 +107
 Scotland 90 52 35 3 57.78% 1280 1102 +178
 South Africa 39 11 22 6 28.21% 578 783 −205
 Tonga 5 3 2 0 60.00% 149 75 +74
 United States 7 6 1 0 85.71% 181 93 +88
 Wales 94 43 48 3 45.74% 1348 1403 −55
 Wales XV 2 1 1 0 50.00% 12 8 +4
 Zimbabwe 1 1 0 0 100.00% 70 12 +58
Total 732 399 301 32 54.51% 13339 10962 +2377


Current squad

On 26 October, Guy Novès named a 32 man squad ahead of their 2016 end-of-year tests against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.[43]

Cyril Baille, Rémi Bonfils, Brice Dulin, Arthur Iturria, Noa Nakaitaci and Clément Ric were late additions to the squad named on 6 November ahead of the opening game against Samoa.[44]

On 14 November, Xavier Chiocci, Kélian Galletier and Camille Lopez was called up to the squad ahead of the Australia test.[45]

Head coach: France Guy Novès

Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by World Rugby.

Player Position Date of Birth (Age) Caps Club/province
Bonfils, RémiRémi Bonfils Hooker (1988-09-26) 26 September 1988 2 France Stade Français
Chat, CamilleCamille Chat Hooker (1995-12-18) 18 December 1995 7 France Racing 92
Guirado, GuilhemGuilhem Guirado (c) Hooker (1986-06-17) 17 June 1986 46 France Toulon
Atonio, UiniUini Atonio Prop (1990-03-26) 26 March 1990 20 France La Rochelle
Baille, CyrilCyril Baille Prop (1993-09-15) 15 September 1993 3 France Toulouse
Ben Arous, EddyEddy Ben Arous Prop (1990-08-25) 25 August 1990 14 France Racing 92
Chiocci, XavierXavier Chiocci Prop (1990-02-13) 13 February 1990 7 France Toulon
Poirot, JeffersonJefferson Poirot Prop (1992-11-01) 1 November 1992 8 France Bordeaux Bègles
Ric, ClémentClément Ric Prop (1988-07-18) 18 July 1988 0 France Clermont Auvergne
Slimani, RabahRabah Slimani Prop (1989-10-18) 18 October 1989 31 France Stade Français
Flanquart, AlexandreAlexandre Flanquart Lock (1989-10-09) 9 October 1989 22 France Stade Français
Iturria, ArthurArthur Iturria Lock (1994-05-13) 13 May 1994 0 France Clermont Auvergne
Jedrasiak, PaulPaul Jedrasiak Lock (1993-02-06) 6 February 1993 5 France Clermont Auvergne
Le Devedec, JulienJulien Le Devedec Lock (1986-06-04) 4 June 1986 5 France Brive
Maestri, YoannYoann Maestri Lock (1988-01-14) 14 January 1988 51 France Toulouse
Vahaamahina, SébastienSébastien Vahaamahina Lock (1991-10-21) 21 October 1991 21 France Clermont Auvergne
Galletier, KélianKélian Galletier Flanker (1992-03-18) 18 March 1992 1 France Montpellier
Goujon, LoannLoann Goujon Flanker (1989-04-23) 23 April 1989 13 France Bordeaux Bègles
Gourdon, KevinKevin Gourdon Flanker (1990-01-23) 23 January 1990 5 France La Rochelle
Lauret, WenceslasWenceslas Lauret Flanker (1989-03-28) 28 March 1989 12 France Racing 92
Ollivon, CharlesCharles Ollivon Flanker (1993-05-11) 11 May 1993 5 France Toulon
Chouly, DamienDamien Chouly Number 8 (1985-11-27) 27 November 1985 43 France Clermont Auvergne
Picamoles, LouisLouis Picamoles Number 8 (1986-02-05) 5 February 1986 57 England Northampton Saints
Bézy, SébastienSébastien Bézy Scrum-half (1991-11-22) 22 November 1991 7 France Toulouse
Machenaud, MaximeMaxime Machenaud Scrum-half (1988-12-30) 30 December 1988 26 France Racing 92
Serin, BaptisteBaptiste Serin Scrum-half (1994-06-20) 20 June 1994 5 France Bordeaux Bègles
Doussain, Jean-MarcJean-Marc Doussain Fly-half (1991-02-12) 12 February 1991 14 France Toulouse
Lopez, CamilleCamille Lopez Fly-half (1989-04-03) 3 April 1989 11 France Clermont Auvergne
Plisson, JulesJules Plisson Fly-half (1991-08-20) 20 August 1991 13 France Stade Français
Trinh-Duc, FrançoisFrançois Trinh-Duc Fly-half (1986-11-11) 11 November 1986 56 France Toulon
Fickou, GaëlGaël Fickou Centre (1994-03-26) 26 March 1994 24 France Toulouse
Fofana, WesleyWesley Fofana Centre (1988-01-20) 20 January 1988 44 France Clermont Auvergne
Lamerat, RémiRémi Lamerat Centre (1990-01-14) 14 January 1990 11 France Clermont Auvergne
Mermoz, MaximeMaxime Mermoz Centre (1986-07-28) 28 July 1986 35 France Toulon
Camara, DjibrilDjibril Camara Wing (1989-06-22) 22 June 1989 3 France Stade Français
Huget, YoannYoann Huget Wing (1987-06-02) 2 June 1987 42 France Toulouse
Médard, MaximeMaxime Médard Wing (1986-11-16) 16 November 1986 47 France Toulouse
Nakaitaci, NoaNoa Nakaitaci Wing (1990-07-11) 11 July 1990 10 France Clermont Auvergne
Vakatawa, VirimiVirimi Vakatawa Wing (1992-05-01) 1 May 1992 8 France FFR
Dulin, BriceBrice Dulin Fullback (1990-04-13) 13 April 1990 25 France Racing 92
Spedding, ScottScott Spedding Fullback (1986-05-04) 4 May 1986 18 France Clermont Auvergne

Notable players

Eight former French national team players have been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. Its direct predecessor is the IRB Hall of Fame, founded in 2006 by the sport's international governing body, World Rugby, when it was known as the International Rugby Board. In late 2014, the IRB Hall merged with the separate International Rugby Hall of Fame, with all International Hall inductees becoming members of the World Rugby Hall of Fame.[46][47][48][49]

Jean Prat (1923–2005) earned 51 caps playing for France from 1945 to 1955, and captained France to their first wins over Wales and the All Blacks.[50] He was also France's captain in 1954 when they won their first ever Five Nations (shared with Wales and England).[51] Prat was inducted to the International Hall of Fame in 2001[50] and the IRB Hall of Fame in 2011.[49]

Lucien Mias (born 1930), nicknamed Docteur Pack, was credited with inventing the concept of the advantage line in forward play. When inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2011, he was called "one of the most influential captains of his country". He was most noted for captaining France to a Test series win over South Africa in 1958, the first such feat in the 20th century for a touring team.[49]

André Boniface (born 1934) also played in France's win over the All Blacks in 1954; it was only his second test for France. Boniface went on to play 48 tests for France before retiring in 1966.[52] He was inducted to the International Hall in 2005[52] and the IRB Hall in 2011.[49]

Guy Boniface (1937–1968) emerged on the international scene shortly after his older brother André, although the two did not play together in the same France side until 1961. According to the IRB, the Boniface brothers "redefined the concept of back play through their unique blend of skill and creativity." Guy won 35 caps for France before his death in an auto accident in 1968. He was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame alongside his brother in 2011.[49]

Jo Maso (born 1944) first played for France between 1966 and 1973; mainly at centre. He played in France's first ever Five Nations Grand Slam in 1968,[53] and that year toured New Zealand and Australia. He represented France in 25 tests and also played for the Barbarians and the World XV that beat England in 1971. Maso entered the International Hall in 2003[54] and became a member of the World Rugby Hall with the merger of the two halls of fame.[46] He is now the manager of the French national team.

Jean-Pierre Rives (born 1952), a 1997 inductee of the International Hall who entered the World Rugby Hall with the merger, played 59 tests for France between 1975 and 1984; including 34 as captain. He played in Five Nations Grand Slams in 1977 and 1981, and captained France to their first ever win over the All Blacks in New Zealand.[55] Rives is now a sculptor, and designed the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy (Italian: Trofeo Garibaldi; French: Trophée Garibaldi), which is competed for every year by France and Italy in the 6 Nations championship.[56]

Serge Blanco (born 1958) played in 93 tests for France between 1980 and 1991. Playing at fullback Blanco won Five Nations Grand Slams with France in 1981 and 1987, and scored the match-winning try in France's semi-final against Australia in the 1987 World Cup.[57] He is the current president of his longtime club, Biarritz Olympique, and a past president of France's national professional league, Ligue Nationale de Rugby. Blanco was inducted to the International Hall in 1997[57] and the IRB Hall in 2011.[49]

Centre Philippe Sella (born 1962), who was also in the 1987 team, played 111 times for France between 1982 and 1995, setting an appearances record that stood until Fabien Pelous broke it during the 2007 Rugby World Cup. In 1986, he achieved the rare feat of scoring a try in each of France's Five Nations matches.[58][59] Sella entered the International Hall in 1999[58] and the IRB Hall in 2005.[48]

Individual all-time records

The record for points scored for France is 422, held by Frédéric Michalak, who surpassed previous record holder Christophe Lamaison on 22 August 2015.[60][61] Lamaison continues to hold the record for conversions with 59.[61] The record for penalties scored is 89 by Thierry Lacroix, and the drop goal record of 15 is held by Jean-Patrick Lescarboura.[61] The record for French appearances is held by Fabien Pelous with 118.[61] The record for tries scored for France is with 38 held by Serge Blanco.[61]



Historically the role of French rugby coach (or trainer) has varied considerably. Due to the status of rugby union as an amateur sport for most of its history, the job of deciding tactics and running team trainings has often been that of the captain or senior players. Therefore, a comprehensive list of national coaches is impossible.

Although coached by Jean Desclaux between 1973 and 1980, the French team's main influence during the late 1970 was captain Jacques Fouroux. Fouroux played scrum-half and captained France to their 1977 Five Nations Grand Slam, during which France played a very forward-oriented style of rugby.[62] Although the style of Fouroux's Gang was successful, it was criticised because it contrasted with the traditional open attacking style of French rugby.[62] Fouroux was given the nickname "the little Corporal" – the same as Napoleon Bonaparte.[63] Fouroux was named as Desclaux's successor in 1981 at the age of just 33. He continued to promote a forward-oriented style of play, and France won six Five Nations titles – including two Grand Slams – while he was coach. After nearly ten years in the role he resigned in 1990 after a defeat to Romania.[64]

Fouroux was succeeded by Daniel Dubroca, who coached the team to the 1991 Rugby World Cup.[65] Dubroca's tenure as coach did not last long, however, as he resigned after violently confronting referee David Bishop following France's World Cup quarter-final against England.[65][66] Dubroca was replaced by Pierre Berbizier, who coached the team until after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.[67] Berbizier's replacement, Jean-Claude Skrela, coached France to Five Nations Grand Slams in 1997 and 1998 before they came last in the tournament in 1999.[68] He officially resigned following France's loss to Australia in the 1999 Rugby World Cup final. Bernard Laporte was appointed as Skrela's successor in November.[69] Laporte guided France through the 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups before stepping down to become Secretary of State for Sport. After Philippe Saint-André turned down the offer to replace Laporte, French Rugby Federation president Bernard Lapasset appointed Marc Lièvremont to guide France to the 2011 World Cup.[70] Lièvremont's tenure as coach was marked by inconsistent and puzzling squad selection choices, and player discontent.[71] There were some bright moments, notably wins against New Zealand in Dunedin and South Africa in Toulouse, and the 2010 Six Nations Grand Slam.[71] But there was also a 59–16 loss to Australia in Paris, a 22–21 loss to Italy in the 2011 Six Nations, and a 19–14 loss to Tonga during the 2011 World Cup.[71] In August 2011, before the World Cup, it was announced that Philippe Saint-André would replace Lièvremont and guide France to the 2015 World Cup.[72] This came as no surprise to Lièvremont, as he had announced as early as May 2010 that he would not continue as the coach of France after the World Cup.[72]

France did not impress under Saint-André, finishing no higher than fourth in the Six Nations during his tenure and even claiming the wooden spoon in 2013. Following the 2015 Six Nations, he announced his resignation effective after that year's World Cup and was replaced by Guy Novès.[73][74]

Name Tenure
Jean Prat 1964–1968
Fernand Cazenave 1968–1973
Jean Desclaux 1973–1980
Jacques Fouroux 1981–1990
Daniel Dubroca 1990–1991
Pierre Berbizier 1991–1995
Jean-Claude Skrela 1995–1999
Bernard Laporte 1999–2007
Marc Lièvremont 2007–2011
Philippe Saint-André 2011–2015
Guy Novès 2016–

Media coverage

France's summer tour matches and autumn internationals are currently televised by France Télévisions which lasts until 2015.

See also


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  2. British Daily Graphic, Monday, 3 March 1890
  3. 1 2 3 "Rugby at the 1924 Olympics". Rugby Football History. Retrieved 4 March 2007.
  4. "8th All Black Test : 88th All Black Game". Retrieved 30 March 2007.
  5. "South Africa vs France > Games Played". Retrieved 17 May 2007.
  6. "2/3/4/5/6 Nations Winners". Rugby World. Retrieved 4 March 2007.
  7. 1 2 3 4 "Six Nations history". BBC Sport. 28 January 2002. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  8. "France > Most Wins in a row". Retrieved 17 May 2007.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Six Nations roll of honour". BBC Sport. 18 December 2007. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  10. Seeckts, Richard. "A frugal French victory". Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  11. "1977 in France". Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  12. "184th All Black Test : 753rd All Black Game". Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  13. "1994 France in New Zealand". Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  14. The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  15. (French) "2 janvier 1911 : la naissance d'une Nation" (in French). Retrieved 4 March 2007.
  16. "Le coq dans le sport" (PDF) (in French). Retrieved 4 March 2007.
  17. "Le coq sportif" (PDF) (in French). Retrieved 4 March 2007.
  18. "Ecusson en forme de coq, devenu emblème national" (in French). Musee du Sport. Retrieved 4 March 2007.
  19. Owen, James (2 March 2006). "Bird Flu Strikes at French Identity, Cuisine". National Geographic. Retrieved 25 June 2007.
  20. "France into adidas for International Rugby from 2012". 9 July 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  21. Rob Lewis (2007). "Crowd Control: Transforming Stadium Spectatorship in Interwar France". Proceedings of the Western Society for French History. 35: 219–232.
  22. "Stade de France". Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  23. An archive of international results can be found at
  24. "French rugby federation chooses new 82,000-seater stadium south of Paris". The Daily Telegraph. 29 June 2012.
  25. "Le Stade: Les dates clés" (in French). French Rugby Federation. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
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  27. 1 2 "Destination France". Archived from the original on 27 October 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2008.
  28. 1 2 "Six Nations roll of honour". BBC. 29 January 2004. Retrieved 3 May 2007.
  29. 1 2 3 4 "1987: France 30–24 Australia". BBC Sport. 24 September 2003. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  30. "1987: Kiwis see off France in final". BBC Sport. 24 September 2003. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
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  32. 1 2 3 Gallagher, Brendan (10 October 2007). "When Mick Skinner took the wind out of France". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
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  34. "381st All Black Test : 1101st All Black Game". Retrieved 3 May 2007.
  35. 1 2 "Harinordoquy admits to French uprising". ESPN Scrum. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
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  38. "Player Statistics". Retrieved 24 June 2008.
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  40. 1 2 "World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  41. Ranking archives can be found at the World Rugby website at; archived rankings are available by choosing a date in the "Choose Date" menu to the right of the "World Rugby Rankings" heading.
  42. 1 2 "French Stats". ESPN Scrum. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  43. XV de France : Stage préparatoire
  44. XV de France : Le groupe pour les Samoa
  45. XV de France : Le groupe pour l’Australie
  46. 1 2 "Rugby greats to join definitive Hall of Fame" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  47. Gallagher, Brendan (17 November 2005). "Joining the legends an added bonus for Wood". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 29 June 2007.
  48. 1 2 "IRB Hall of Fame Welcomes Five Inductees" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 23 November 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  49. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Five French legends into IRB Hall of Fame" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 19 March 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  50. 1 2 "Jean Prat". Retrieved 29 June 2007.
  51. "Heroes of French rugby". The Observer. London. 5 February 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2007.
  52. 1 2 "André Boniface". Retrieved 29 June 2007.
  53. "Leaping for joy at Grand Slam glory".
  54. "Jo Maso". Retrieved 29 June 2007.
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  57. 1 2 "Serge Blanco". Retrieved 29 June 2007.
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  60. "Frédéric Michalak dépasse Titou Lamaison comme meilleur réalisateur du XV de France". L'Équipe (in French). 22 August 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
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  62. 1 2 Dine (2001), pg 155.
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  64. Dine (2001), pg 160.
  65. 1 2 Brine (2001), pg 172–173.
  66. Patel, Tara (19 March 1992). "French, in Anglo-Saxon Game, Can No Longer Rest on Latin Laurels". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 24 November 2006. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  67. "Berbizier launches Laporte attack". BBC. 29 January 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  68. "Sport: Rugby Union Skrela steps down as French coach". BBC. 16 November 1999. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  69. "Laporte gets France job". BBC. 22 November 1999. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  70. "Lievremont appointed France coach". BBC. 24 October 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
  71. 1 2 3 "Rugby World Cup final: Marc Lièvremont the loneliest musketeer". The Guardian. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  72. 1 2 "Philippe Saint-Andre to replace Marc Lievremont as France boss". BBC Sport. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
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  74. Guy Noves confirmed as next France head coach


  • Dine, Philip (2001). French Rugby Football—Cultural History. Berg. ISBN 1859733271. 
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