The France national rugby union team, commonly known as ‘Les Blues’, are well known for their attacking and open-running rugby, but they have never secured a World Cup title.
Boasting one of the top domestic leagues in the world, French rugby continually produces outstanding talent, including their current scrum-half Antoine Dupont, one of the best players in the world.
On their day, France can be one of the most exciting and destructive rugby teams in the world to watch. Their maverick tactics and ball-handling skills are well-known, making them among the most thrilling international rugby teams to watch.
In this article, we look at the France national rugby union team’s history as they get set to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, their upcoming matches, and their current squad.
World Cup Fixtures
Right out of the gate, the France national rugby union team will have a tough match at the 2023 World Cup in Pool A – the hosts meet New Zealand in the tournament’s opening fixture on September 8.
That should be an early battle for the top spot in Pool A, with Italy, Uruguay and Namibia being the other participating nations in the section. But even winning the Pool doesn’t necessarily grant an easier quarter-final match.
The winner of Pool A will face the runner-up of Pool B, likely to be either South Africa, Ireland or Scotland. Below is the full schedule of the France national rugby union team matches in Pool A, and where the action will be taking place:
- September 8 – France v New Zealand (Stade de France, Saint-Denis)
- September 14 – France v Uruguay (Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille)
- September 21 – France v Namibia (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)
- October 6 – France v Italy (Parc OL, Lyon)
World Cup Performance
France National Rugby Union Team History
Rugby union was introduced to France in the 19th century. On the back of the domestic game’s growth, in 1906, the French played their first international rugby fixture, facing New Zealand in Paris but falling to a 38-8 defeat.
In 1907 they crossed the Channel to play their first international fixture outside the country, losing 31-13 to England. A pivotal moment in France’s history came in 1910 when they were allowed to join England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to form the Five Nations, a precursor to the current Six Nations tournament.
A World Cup has so far eluded France, even though they have continuously knocked on the door. The France national rugby union team has so far reached the RWC final on three separate occasions.
The first was in the 1987 Rugby World Cup, in which they lost the Final 29-9 to New Zealand. It was a similar story for them at the 1999 World Cup when they lost to Australia in the final in a heavy 35-12 defeat.
In the 2011 World Cup, France were once again denied glory by host nation New Zealand. It was a tight, tense final, with both teams scoring just one try in a match of few chances. However, the All Blacks edged out the French by an 8-7 scoreline.
France were named World Rugby’s team of 2022 after storming their way to the Six Nations title. But, unfortunately, they couldn’t pull off a title defence in 2023 as they found Ireland to be too strong. However, France remains a significant force ahead of this year’s World Cup.
As the host nation, France will receive the extra boost of home advantage as they look to taste Rugby World Cup glory for the first time and are a team that everyone else will fear playing.
France Rugby Players
After a solid 2023 Six Nations campaign, France will meet Scotland for two fixtures in August before facing Fiji and Australia as warm-up games before the start of the Rugby World Cup.
Any player selected for the national side must hold a current French passport – an additional requirement to World Rugby’s demand of five years’ residency in the country. Below is the likely squad that will compete in the warm-up fixtures and from which the final France Rugby World Cup squad will be formed.
Hooker – Pierre Bourgarit
Hooker – Julien Marchand
Hooker – Gaetan Barlot
Tighthead prop – Uini Atonio
Tighthead prop Mohamed Haouas
Tighthead prop Demba Bamba
Loosehead prop – Cyril Baille
Loosehead prop Jean-Baptiste Gros
Lock – Paul Willemse
Lock – Cameron Woki
Lock – Romain Taofifenua
Lock – Thomas Lavault
Lock – Remi Picquette
Flanker – Francois Cros
Flanker – Gregory Alldritt
Flanker – Sekou Macalou
Flanker – Yoann Maestri
Flanker – Ibrahim Diallo
Number 8 – Anthony Jelonch
Number 8 – Dylan Cretin
Scrum half – Antoine Dupont (c)
Scrum half – Maxime Lucu
Fly half – Romain Ntamack
Fly half – Matthieu Jalibert
Centre – Gael Fickou
Centre – Jonathan Danty
Centre – Yoram Moefana,
Centre – Pierre-Louis Barassi
Wing – Damian Penaud
Wing – Gabin Villiere
Wing – Melvyn Jaminet
Wing – Teddy Thomas
Fullback – Melvyn Jaminet
Fullback – Brice Dulin