France national rugby union team

The France national rugby union team (French: Équipe de France de rugby à XV) represents the French Rugby Federation (FFR; Fédération française de rugby) in men's international rugby union matches. Colloquially known as Le XV de France (French for "The XV of France"), the team traditionally wears blue shirts with a Gallic rooster embroidered on the chest, white shorts and red socks in reference to the French national flag. Les Bleus (French for "The Blues") mostly play home matches at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris. They compete in the annual Six Nations Championship along with England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. France have won the tournament on 26 occasions (as well as sharing 8 victories), winning the Grand Slam 10 times.

France
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)Le XV de France (The XV of France)
Les Bleus (The Blues)
EmblemGallic rooster
UnionFédération Française de Rugby
Head coachFabien Galthié
CaptainGrégory Alldritt
Most capsFabien Pelous (118)
Top scorerFrédéric Michalak (436)
Top try scorerSerge Blanco (38)
Home stadiumStade de France
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current4 (as of 16 October 2023)
Highest1 (2022)
Lowest10 (2018)
First international
 France 8–38 New Zealand 
(Paris, France; 1 January 1906)
Biggest win
 France 96–0 Namibia 
(Marseille, France; 21 September 2023)
Biggest defeat
 New Zealand 61–10 France 
(Wellington, New Zealand; 9 June 2007)
World Cup
Appearances9 (First in 1987)
Best resultRunners-up (1987, 1999, 2011)
Websiteffr.fr/xv-de-france

Rugby was introduced to France in 1872 by the British before a first France national team was formed in 1893 (as a selection of the best Parisian-club players under the USFSA governance) to face a club in England. A few years later, on New Year's Day 1906, the national side played its first test match against New Zealand in Paris. France then played sporadically against the Home Nations until they joined them in 1910 to form the Five Nations Championship. 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. Their last win in the tournament dates back to 2022 under head coach and former team-captain Fabien Galthié, who is currently in charge of the selection.

France has competed in every Rugby World Cup since it began in 1987, and qualified for the knock-out stage each time. They have reached the final three times, losing to New Zealand 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. In 2023 they hosted for a second time, but they succumbed to South Africa, the eventual winners, in the quarter-finals by a margin of one point.

History

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Rugby was introduced to France in 1872 by English merchants and students.[1] On 26 February 1890,[2] a French rugby team recruited from the Janson Desailly Lyceum defeated an international team at the Bois de Boulogne.[3]

Although France were represented at the 1900 Summer Olympics,[4] their first official test match did not take place until New Year's Day 1906, against the New Zealand All Blacks in Paris.[5] 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.[6] France also competed at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics, and on both occasions lost to the United States in the gold medal match.[4]

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.[7][8] 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.[9] 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.[8]

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.[8] Their first championship was won in 1954 when they shared the title with England and Wales.[8][10] France won their first outright Five Nations championship in 1959; they won with two wins, a draw (against England) and a defeat (against Ireland).[10]

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.[10]

 
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.[10][11] They also defeated the All Blacks in Toulouse that year, but lost the return match in Paris.[12] On Bastille Day, 1979 they defeated the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time, at Eden Park in Auckland.[13]

In 1981 the French clinched their third Grand Slam; at Twickenham against England.[10] 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.[10]

France hosted some of the tests during the 1991 World Cup, but were knocked out by England at the Parc des Princes (Paris) in the quarter-finals. France won the Five Nations championship in 1993. In 1994 France won a test series 2–0 in New Zealand.[14] 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. In November 1995, France played the All Blacks in two tests, winning the first 22–15 at Toulouse and losing 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.[10]

The Five Nations Championship was expanded in 2000 to include Italy. In the now Six Nations Championship France won a Grand Slam in 2002.[10] 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.[10]

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 in the final to make it three final defeats.[15]

During the 2015 Rugby World Cup, France lost 62–13 to New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

In the 2019 Rugby World Cup, France lost to Wales 20–19 in the quarter-finals.

The French rugby team recorded a perfect season in 2022 having won all 13 matches.[16]

During France's home 2023 Rugby World Cup, they lost to South Africa, the eventual victors, 28-29 in the quarter-finals.

Team image

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Colours and kits

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France in their first shirt before playing Great Britain in October 1900

Until 1912, the strip (uniform) of the French team was white with two rings (the symbol of USFSA, the body that ruled the sport in France by then). 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.[17] 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 association football player, Jean Rigal, wore a uniform with this emblem as early as May 1910.[18] The badge was initially white and red, but was altered to a multicoloured, embroidered image after 1945, and has been golden since 1970.[19]

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.[20] 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.[21]

 
Previous Gallic rooster crest used from 1998 to 2019

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 (French for "The Tricoloured" or "The Red, White and Blues"). Due to the mostly blue strip the French team currently wears, the team is now often referred to as Les Bleus (French for "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 with a black and navy gradation, 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, 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 France national rugby shirt from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2018.[22]

Led by newly elected president Bernard Laporte, the federation intended on selling the jersey to a sponsor. The FFR announced on 24 January 2017 that they had started the commercialisation of the jersey. In February, it was decided that the jersey would first be used to support France's bid for the 2023 World Cup by showing #France2023 on the front of the kit.[23] In March 2017, the Groupe Altrad showed its support for France's bid for the World Cup and the company's logo accompanied #France2023 on the jersey. The group became the first private company in history that appeared on the France national team kits.[24] As of 2017 and France's successful bid to host the World Cup, Groupe Altrad signed a contract with the FFR, appearing solely on the jerseys.

In 2017, FFR announced that Le Coq Sportif would once again be their supplier for a period of six years, with them taking over production of the France national rugby shirt from July 2018 to June 2024.[25] On 28 June 2019, the Federation unveiled a new France Rugby logo which replaced the red and golden rooster and the previous governing body abstract logo. The red and stylised rooster was designed in order to be used as France teams' crest and FFR badge.[26] A few months before the 2023 World Cup kick-off, incoming FFR president Florian Grill announced Adidas' return as France's kit manufacturer from June 2024.[27]

Kit suppliers

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Period Kit manufacturer Main shirt sponsor
1970–1975 Le Coq Sportif
1976–1979 Adidas
1980–1986 Le Coq Sportif
1985–1986 Nike
1986–1998 Adidas
1998–2012 Nike
2012–2017 Adidas
2017–2018 Adidas Groupe Altrad
2018–2024 Le Coq Sportif
2024–2028 Adidas TBA

Kits timeline

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First matches
 
 
 
 
 
 
Circa 1915
 
 
 
 
 
 
1960
 
 
 
 
 
 
1970
 
 
 
 
 
 
1985–86
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1999–2001
(1999 WC)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2003–05
(2003 WC)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2007–09
(2007 WC)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2010–11
(2010 G. Slam)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2011–12
(2011 WC)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2015–16
(2015 WC)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2019–20
(2019 WC)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2021–22
(2022 G. Slam)

Media coverage

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France's autumn internationals and Six Nations Championship matches are televised by public free-to-air national broadcaster France Télévisions (especially by the main channel France 2) since 1975. French viewers can therefore follow and see a total of eight France national games without any charges. The summer test matches meanwhile are fairly often televised by pay television channel Canal+ while the World Cup matches are broadcast by private free-to-air TF1.[28][29] However, TF1 Group, France Télévisions and Groupe M6 announced details of a joint 2023 World Cup coverage, where each game of the tournament will be quite equally aired across three broadcasters. TF1 will broadcast 20 matches including most of the knockout phase and France matches, France 2 will air 10 matches including the France fixture against Namibia while M6 will televise a total of 18 matches.[30]

France matches are also broadcast with full commentary on many public and private radio stations such as RMC, Sud Radio or local generalist France Bleu branchs. Furthermore, most of French daily and weekly newspapers follow the France national team just like sport specialist L'Équipe and especially rugby-focused Midi Olympique that is published every Monday and Friday.[31]

As of June 2023, the French Rugby Federation social media (rebranded as France Rugby) had more than 800,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter, and over 700,000 on Instagram. France Rugby also posts videos of trainings and game weeks on its YouTube channel, where viewers can witness the players and staff routine in web series.[32]

Home grounds

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

Historically, France played internationals at venues such as the Parc des Princes and the Stade Olympique de Colombes, both in Paris.[33] The Stade Olympique de Colombes was the main venue for the 1924 Summer Olympics, where rugby was a sport.[4]

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.[34] 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) and U Arena.[35]

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 was projected to cost €600M and have a seating capacity of 82,000. It was originally scheduled for completion by 2017,[36] but later delayed to 2021 or 2022.[37] In December 2016, FFR officially abandoned the stadium project.[38]

World Cup venues

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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 Métropole also hosted a quarter-final each.[39] 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).[40] 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). The final between England and South Africa was played at Stade de France.[40]

France was again chosen to host in 2023. After a first choice of twelve venues, nine cities and stadiums were eventually selected for the tournament including five that were already used for the 2007 edition: biggest France stadium Stade de France (Saint-Denis – Paris), Stade Vélodrome (Marseille), OL Stadium (Décines-Charpieu – Lyon), Stade Pierre-Mauroy (Villeneuve-d'AscqLille), Stade de Bordeaux, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (Saint-Étienne) as well as Stade de Nice, Stade de la Beaujoire (Nantes) and Stadium de Toulouse. France will play matches at Stade de France, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Stade Vélodrome and OL Stadium. Their opening match against New Zealand will be held at Stade France like both semi-finals and finals.[41]

Competitive record

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Six Nations

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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.[42] 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.[42] 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, eleven wins behind England. However, it should be taken into account that France have been present in 34 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).


   
England
 
France
 
Ireland
 
Italy
 
Scotland
 
Wales
Tournaments 128 95 130 25 130 130
Outright wins (shared wins)
Home Nations 5 (4) 4 (3) 9 (2) 7 (3)
Five Nations 17 (6) 12 (8) 6 (5) 5 (6) 15 (8)
Six Nations 7 6 6 0 0 6
Overall 29 (10) 18 (8) 16 (8) 0 (0) 14 (8) 28 (11)
Grand Slams
Home Nations 2[43]
Five Nations 11 6 1 3 6
Six Nations 2 4 3 0 0 4
Overall 13 10 4 0 3 12
Triple Crowns
Home Nations 5 2 7 6
Five Nations 16 4 3 11
Six Nations 5 7 0 5
Overall 26 13 10 22
Wooden Spoons
Home Nations 7 10 5 6
Five Nations 10 12 15 15 10
Six Nations 0 1 0 18 4 2
Overall 17 13 25 18 24 18

Rugby World Cup

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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,[44] 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.[44] 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.[44] 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.[44] 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,[45] and New Zealand won the anticlimactic decider 29–9.[46]

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.[47] 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.[47] 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 Dave Bishop in the players tunnel. He resigned soon afterwards.[47]

In 1995 France finished third overall, defeating England 19–9 in the third-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,[48] France lost to Australia 35–12 in the final. In 2003 they finished fourth, losing the third/fourth place game to the All Blacks.[49] 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.[citation needed]

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.[50] 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.[51] 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."[50] 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.[citation needed]

France are the third-highest World Cup points scorers of all time, with 1585 points. They are also the third-highest try scorers, and the second-highest penalty scorers.[52] France's Thierry Lacroix was the top points scorer at the 1995 tournament with 112 points,[53] and Jean-Baptiste Lafond was the joint top try scorer in 1991 with six tries (equal with David Campese).[54] Vincent Clerc is top try scorer in 2011 with six tries as Jean-Baptiste Lafond 20 years earlier.[citation needed]

Rugby World Cup record
Year Round Pld W D L PF PA Squad Head coach
   1987 Runners-up 6 4 1 1 215 113 Squad J. Fouroux
      1991 Quarter-finals 4 3 0 1 92 44 Squad D. Dubroca
  1995 Third place 6 5 0 1 184 87 Squad P. Berbizier
  1999 Runners-up 6 5 0 1 210 144 Squad J. Skrela
  2003 Fourth place 7 5 0 2 267 155 Squad B. Laporte
  2007 Fourth place 7 4 0 3 227 103 Squad
  2011 Runners-up 7 4 0 3 159 124 Squad M. Lièvremont
  2015 Quarter-finals 5 3 0 2 133 125 Squad P. Saint-André
  2019 Quarter-finals 4 3 0 1 98 71 Squad J. Brunel
  2023 Quarter-finals 5 4 0 1 238 61 Squad F. Galthié
Total Runners-up (3) 57 40 1 16 1,823 1027
  Champions    Runners-up    Third place    Fourth place
* Green border colour indicates tournament was held on home soil. ** Some matches of the 1999 tournament were held on home soil.

Correct as of 10 November 2023.

Overall and rankings

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Top 20 as of 15 July 2024[55]
Rank Change* Team Points
1     South Africa 093.11
2     Ireland 092.12
3     New Zealand 090.37
4     France 086.96
5     England 085.40
6     Scotland 082.82
7     Argentina 081.64
8  1   Italy 078.98
9  1   Australia 078.70
10     Fiji 077.44
11     Wales 076.04
12  2   Georgia 074.36
13     Samoa 073.65
14  2   Japan 072.63
15  1   Portugal 070.61
16  1   Tonga 070.58
17     Uruguay 067.39
18     United States 066.01
19     Spain 064.37
20     Romania 062.62
21  1   Canada 061.87
22  1   Chile 061.39
23     Namibia 060.23
24     Hong Kong 059.52
25     Russia 058.06
26      Switzerland 057.44
27     Netherlands 057.29
28     Belgium 055.63
29     Brazil 055.37
30     Zimbabwe 052.43
* Change from the previous week
France's historical rankings
See or edit source data.
Source: World Rugby[55]
Graph updated to 15 July 2024

France were named World Rugby Team of the Year in 2002. 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.[56]

For the first time, France became world number one in July 2022.

France have won 453 of their 820 test matches.[57]

Below is a table of the representative rugby matches played by a France national XV at test level up until 14 July 2024.

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
  Argentina 55 39 15 1 70.91% 1,338 884 +454
  Australia 52 21 29 2 40.38% 975 1,144 −169
  British & Irish Lions 1 0 1 0 0.0% 27 29 −2
 British Army 2 1 1 0 50.0% 24 45 −21
 British Empire Forces 1 0 1 0 0.0% 6 27 −21
 British Empire Services 1 1 0 0 100.0% 10 0 +10
  Canada 9 8 1 0 88.9% 315 119 +196
  Czech Republic 2 2 0 0 100.0% 47 9 +38
  England 111 44 60 7 39.64% 1,490 1,795 −305
  Fiji 11 10 1 0 90.91% 407 149 +258
  Georgia 2 2 0 0 100.0% 105 22 +83
  Germany 15 13 2 0 86.7% 298 89 +209
  Ireland 103 59 37 7 57.28% 1,679 1,311 +368
  Ireland XV 3 2 1 0 66.67% 34 29 +5
  Italy 49 45 3 1 91.84% 1,528 572 +956
  Ivory Coast 1 1 0 0 100.0% 54 18 +36
  Japan 7 6 0 1 85.71% 248 146 +102
 Kiwis 1 0 1 0 0.0% 9 14 −5
  Namibia 3 3 0 0 100.0% 230 23 +207
  New Zealand 63 14 48 1 22.22% 868 1,624 −756
 New Zealand Māori 1 0 1 0 0.0% 3 12 −9
  Pacific Islanders 1 1 0 0 100.0% 42 17 +25
  Romania 50 40 8 2 80.0% 1,315 462 +853
  Samoa 4 4 0 0 100.0% 156 49 +107
  Scotland 103 60 40 3 58.25% 1,602 1,356 +246
  South Africa 46 12 28 6 26.09% 720 994 −274
  Tonga 6 4 2 0 66.7% 172 96 +76
  United States 8 7 1 0 87.5% 214 102 +112
  Uruguay 2 2 0 0 100.0% 70 40 +30
  Wales 104 50 51 3 48.08% 1,619 1,622 −3
  Wales XV 2 1 1 0 50.00% 12 8 +4
  Zimbabwe 1 1 0 0 100.0% 70 12 +58
Total 820 453 333 34 55.24% 15,687 12,819 +2,868

Coaching staff

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Coaching and management history

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Picture Head coach Tenure Tests Won Drew Lost Win % Honours
    Jean Prat 1963–1967 33 21 4 8 063.64   1967 Five Nations Championship
  Fernand Cazenave 1968–1973 34 11 5 18 032.35   1970 Five Nations Championship – Shared win
  Jean Desclaux 1973–1981 60 35 4 21 058.33   1973 Five Nations Championship – Shared win
  1977 Five Nations Championship – Grand Slam
    Jacques Fouroux 1981–1990 82 49 4 29 059.76   1981 Five Nations Championship – Grand Slam
  1983 Five Nations Championship – Shared win
  1986 Five Nations Championship – Shared win
  1987 Five Nations Championship – Grand Slam
  1988 Five Nations Championship – Shared win
  1989 Five Nations Championship
  1987 Rugby World Cup
    Daniel Dubroca 1990–1991 17 11 0 6 064.71
  Pierre Berbizier 1991–1995 39 26 1 12 066.67   1993 Five Nations Championship
  1995 Rugby World Cup
    Jean-Claude Skrela 1995–1999 52 34 0 18 065.38   1997 Five Nations Championship – Grand Slam
  1998 Five Nations Championship – Grand Slam
  1999 Rugby World Cup
    Bernard Laporte 1999–2007 98 62 2 34 063.27   2002 Six Nations Championship – Grand Slam
  2004 Six Nations Championship – Grand Slam
  2006 Six Nations Championship
  2007 Six Nations Championship
    Marc Lièvremont 2007–2011 45 27 0 18 060.00   2010 Six Nations Championship – Grand Slam
  2011 Rugby World Cup
  Philippe Saint-André 2011–2015 45 20 2 23 044.44
    Guy Novès 2015–2017 21 7 1 13 033.33
    Jacques Brunel 2017–2019 24 10 1 13 041.67
    Fabien Galthié 2019– 52 39 1 12 075.00   2022 Six Nations Championship – Grand Slam
Figures correct as of 16 July 2024. Only official competitive and test matches are counted.
Includes a cancelled 2019 World Cup match against England awarded as a 0–0 draw and a cancelled Autumn Nations Cup fixture against Fiji awarded as a 28–0 win.

Historically the role of France rugby union head coach 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. The very first entitled head coach is former legend Jean Prat who won the 1967 Five Nations Championship as a manager before leaving the team before the summer tour of South Africa a few weeks later. Next year, France then won the Grand Slam in the 1968 edition without having a head coach, in self-management. Later that year, Fernand Cazenave took his duties. Two years after, he shared the 1970 Five Nations Championship win with Wales.

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.[58] Although the style of Fouroux's Gang was successful, it was criticised because it contrasted with the traditional open attacking style of French rugby.[58] Fouroux was given the nickname "the little Corporal" – the same as Napoleon Bonaparte.[59] 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.[60]

Fouroux was succeeded by Daniel Dubroca, who coached the team to the 1991 Rugby World Cup.[61] Dubroca's tenure as coach did not last long, however, as he resigned after violently confronting referee Dave Bishop following France's World Cup quarter-final against England.[61][62] Dubroca was replaced by Pierre Berbizier, who coached the team until after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.[63] 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.[64] 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.[65] 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.[66] Lièvremont's tenure as coach was marked by inconsistent and puzzling squad selection choices, and player discontent.[67] There were some bright moments, notably wins against New Zealand in Dunedin and South Africa in Toulouse, and the 2010 Six Nations Grand Slam.[67] 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.[67] 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.[68] 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.[68]

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.[69][70] France was even less impressive under Novès, with Les Bleus winning fewer than one-third of their matches during his tenure, capped off by a run of seven winless matches. Novès was dismissed in December 2017, becoming the first France head coach ever to be fired before the end of his contract, and was replaced by former Italy head coach Jacques Brunel, who arrived from the same position with Bordeaux Bègles. Novès' assistants were dismissed as well.[71]

In April 2019, then-French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte announced that Fabien Galthié would be appointed as head coach of the team after the 2019 World Cup. A week later, Jacques Brunel also confirmed that Galthié joined the France management crew as an assistant to prepare the team for the 2019 World Cup. After the World Cup, the federation formalizes the new coaching staff structured around Fabien Galthié. Raphaël Ibañez was appointed general manager of the team along with four staff membres: William Servat and Karim Ghezal as forwards coaches; Laurent Labit as backs coach and Englishman Shaun Edwards, responsible for the defense. Thibault Giroud, former Toulon head of physical training where he worked with Galthié, was also appointed as head of high permormance. Video analyst Nicolas Buffa retained his positions and became the analysis unit director.[72]

After the 2023 World Cup, Ghezal, Labit and Giroud left the France coaching staff and were replaced respectively by Stade Français forwards coach Laurent Sempéré, former international centre Patrick Arlettaz and Nicolas Jeanjean who became head of high performance.[73]

Current staff

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Position Name
General manager   Raphaël Ibañez
Head coach   Fabien Galthié
Forwards and set piece coaches   Laurent Sempéré (line-out)
  William Servat (scrum)
Backs and attack coach   Patrick Arlettaz
Defence coach   Shaun Edwards
Head of high performance   Nicolas Jeanjean
Head of video analysis   Nicolas Buffa
Kicking coach   Vlok Cilliers
Discipline and refereeing advisor   Jérôme Garcès

Sources:[74][75][76]

Players

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Current squad

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On 17 June 2024, Fabien Galthié named France's first 32-man squad for the 2024 mid-year rugby union tests against Argentina without players from clubs qualified for the Top 14 semi-finals.[77]

On 23 June 2024, Fabien Galthié named France's final 42-man squad for the 2024 mid-year rugby union tests against Argentina without players from clubs qualified for the Top 14 final. [78]

On 8 July 2024, two players for France's national rugby team, Pau lock Hugo Auradou and the La Rochelle flanker Oscar Jégou, were arrested in Argentina on sexual assault charges.[79][80][81]

Head coach:   Fabien Galthié

  • Caps updated: 13 July 2024 (after game v Argentina)
Player Position Date of birth (age) Caps Club/province
Gaëtan Barlot Hooker (1997-04-13) 13 April 1997 (age 27) 9   Castres
Teddy Baubigny Hooker (1998-09-02) 2 September 1998 (age 25) 3   Toulon
Jannick Tarrit Hooker (1998-10-29) 29 October 1998 (age 25) 0   Racing 92
Demba Bamba Prop (1998-03-17) 17 March 1998 (age 26) 28   Lyon
Giorgi Beria Prop (1998-11-11) 11 November 1998 (age 25) 0   Clermont
Georges-Henri Colombe Prop (1998-04-09) 9 April 1998 (age 26) 4   La Rochelle
Jean-Baptiste Gros Prop (1999-05-29) 29 May 1999 (age 25) 29   Toulon
Thomas Laclayat Prop (1997-10-02) 2 October 1997 (age 26) 1   Racing 92
Sébastien Taofifénua Prop (1992-03-21) 21 March 1992 (age 32) 9   Lyon
Hugo Auradou Lock (2003-07-20) 20 July 2003 (age 21) 1   Pau
Pierre-Henri Azagoh Lock (1998-07-25) 25 July 1998 (age 25) 2   Stade Français
Baptiste Pesenti Lock (1997-07-03) 3 July 1997 (age 27) 6   Stade Français
Posolo Tuilagi Lock (2004-07-28) 28 July 2004 (age 19) 5   Perpignan
Florent Vanverberghe Lock (2000-07-22) 22 July 2000 (age 23) 0   Castres
Romain Briatte Back row (1993-02-18) 18 February 1993 (age 31) 1   Stade Français
Judicaël Cancoriet Back row (1996-04-25) 25 April 1996 (age 28) 5   La Rochelle
Ibrahim Diallo Back row (1998-01-23) 23 January 1998 (age 26) 3   Racing 92
Mickaël Guillard Back row (2000-12-10) 10 December 2000 (age 23) 2   Lyon
Oscar Jégou Back row (2003-05-31) 31 May 2003 (age 21) 1   La Rochelle
Jordan Joseph Back row (2000-07-31) 31 July 2000 (age 23) 2   Racing 92
Lenni Nouchi Back row (2003-11-24) 24 November 2003 (age 20) 2   Montpellier
Yann Peysson Back row (2000-07-06) 6 July 2000 (age 24) 0   Castres
Killian Tixeront Back row (2002-01-22) 22 January 2002 (age 22) 1   Clermont
Baptiste Couilloud Scrum-half (1997-07-22) 22 July 1997 (age 26) 17   Lyon
Baptiste Jauneau Scrum-half (2003-11-17) 17 November 2003 (age 20) 1   Clermont
Baptiste Serin Scrum-half (1994-07-20) 20 July 1994 (age 30) 46   Toulon
Léo Berdeu Fly-half (1998-06-13) 13 June 1998 (age 26) 0   Lyon
Louis Carbonel Fly-half (1999-02-04) 4 February 1999 (age 25) 5   Montpellier
Antoine Hastoy Fly-half (1997-06-04) 4 June 1997 (age 27) 7   La Rochelle
Léon Darricarrère Centre (2004-06-04) 4 June 2004 (age 20) 0   Clermont
Simeli Daunivucu Centre (2005-05-12) 12 May 2005 (age 19) 0   La Rochelle
Jules Favre Centre (1999-03-22) 22 March 1999 (age 25) 0   La Rochelle
Antoine Frisch Centre (1996-06-01) 1 June 1996 (age 28) 2   Toulon
Émilien Gailleton Centre (2003-07-13) 13 July 2003 (age 21) 3   Pau
Arthur Vincent Centre (1999-09-30) 30 September 1999 (age 24) 18   Montpellier
Théo Attissogbé Wing (2004-11-19) 19 November 2004 (age 19) 2   Pau
Lucas Dubois Wing (1998-07-09) 9 July 1998 (age 26) 0   Perpignan
Lester Etien Wing (1995-06-21) 21 June 1995 (age 29) 2   Stade Français
Nathanaël Hulleu Wing (2000-05-16) 16 May 2000 (age 24) 0   Castres
Léo Barré Fullback (2002-08-20) 20 August 2002 (age 21) 4   Stade Français
Melvyn Jaminet Fullback (1999-06-30) 30 June 1999 (age 25) 20   Toulon
Joris Jurand Fullback (1995-11-11) 11 November 1995 (age 28) 0   Clermont

Selection policy

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In December 2016, when World Rugby was considering a change in the eligibility rules for international selection, FFR president Bernard Laporte announced that the body would require that all France national team members hold French passports. This requirement is in addition to then-current WR rules mandating three years' residency for international selection, a period which WR increased to five years effective from 31 December 2020.[82] Players who represented France prior to Laporte's announcement remained eligible for selection even if they did not hold French passports.[83] Thus, since 2016 France have had the lowest number of foreign-born players in their Six Nations's squads.[84]

Notable players

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Ten former France national team players have been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame, with an eleventh awaiting induction in 2023. 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.[85][86][87][88]

Marcel Communeau (1885–1971), a back-rower for Stade Français at club level, played in France's first official international match against New Zealand's Original All Blacks in 1906. He went on to earn 21 caps for France, serving as captain for the country's first Five Nations appearance in 1910 and leading France to its first-ever win in that competition in 1911 against Scotland. Communeau is also credited with suggesting that France adopt the rooster as its team emblem. He entered the World Rugby Hall in 2015.[89]

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.[90] He was also France's captain in 1954 when they won their first ever Five Nations (shared with Wales and England).[91] Prat was inducted to the International Hall of Fame in 2001[90] and the IRB Hall of Fame in 2011.[88]

Lucien Mias (1930–2024), 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.[88]

André Boniface (1934–2024) 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.[92] He was inducted to the International Hall in 2005[92] and the IRB Hall in 2011.[88]

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.[88]

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,[93] 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[94] and became a member of the World Rugby Hall with the merger of the two halls of fame.[85] He is now the manager of the France 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.[95] 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.[96]

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.[97] He is past president both of his longtime club, Biarritz Olympique, and France's national professional league, Ligue Nationale de Rugby. Blanco was inducted to the International Hall in 1997[97] and the IRB Hall in 2011.[88]

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, who himself would be indicted into the World Rugby Hall in 2017, 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.[98][99] Sella entered the International Hall in 1999[98] and the IRB Hall in 2005.[87]

Lock Fabien Pelous (born 1973) was inducted into the World Rugby Hall in 2017 at a ceremony at the Hall's physical location in Rugby.[100] He appeared 118 times for France from 1995 to 2007, surpassing Sella as France's most-capped player. According to World Rugby, "Pelous' spirit and robustness in the heat of battle made him perfect captaincy material", and he would captain Les Bleus 42 times, with only Thierry Dusautoir serving as captain on more occasions. In his 18-season club career, 12 of which were with his hometown club Toulouse, he helped Toulouse to two European and three French titles.[101]

Flanker Thierry Dusautoir (born 1981) was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2023 at the World Rugby Awards ceremony in Paris. Appearing 80 times for France, 56 as captain, from 2006 to 2015, he played in three World Cups. Two of his greatest personal accolades came in World Cup matches against New Zealand—he was Player of the Match in France's losing effort in the 2011 World Cup final, and set a World Cup record of 38 tackles in France's win in the 2007 World Cup quarterfinals. At club level, he played on teams that won five French titles and one European Cup.[102]

Award winners

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World Rugby Awards

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The following France players have been recognised at the World Rugby Awards since 2001:[103]

World Rugby Try of the Year
Year Date Scorer Match Tournament Ref
2021 26 March Damian Penaud vs. Scotland Six Nations [104]

Six Nations Player of the Championship

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The following France players have been shortlisted for the Six Nations Player of the Championship since 2004:[105]

Six Nations Team of the Championship
Year 1st XV 2nd XV
Forwards Backs Forwards Backs
No. Players No. Players No. Players No. Players
2021 9. Antoine Dupont Not awarded
2022 1. Cyril Baille 9. Antoine Dupont (2)
10. Romain Ntamack
2. Julien Marchand 11. Gabin Villière
5. Paul Willemse 12. Jonathan Danty
6. François Cros 13. Gaël Fickou
8. Grégory Alldritt 14. Damian Penaud
2023 4. Thibaud Flament 9. Antoine Dupont (3) 2. Julien Marchand 15. Thomas Ramos
5. Paul Willemse
14. Damian Penaud (2) 7. Charles Ollivon
8. Grégory Alldritt
2024 3. Uini Atonio 15. Thomas Ramos Not awarded

Individual all-time records

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The record for points scored for France is 436, held by Frédéric Michalak, who surpassed previous record holder Christophe Lamaison on 22 August 2015.[108][109] Lamaison continues to hold the record for conversions with 59.[109] The record for penalties scored is 89 by Thierry Lacroix, and the drop goal record of 15 is held by Jean-Patrick Lescarboura.[109] The record for French appearances is held by Fabien Pelous with 118.[109] The record for tries scored for France is with 38 held by Serge Blanco.[109]

Honours

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Worldwide

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Continental

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Slams

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Rivalry trophies

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See also

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References

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Bibliography

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  • Dine, Philip (2001). French Rugby Football—Cultural History. Berg. ISBN 978-1859733271.
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