2023 Guinness Six Nations report card: France

France could not quite match the heights of their 2022 Grand Slam but they still produced some magical moments on the way to second in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

France could not quite match the heights of their 2022 Grand Slam but they still produced some magical moments on the way to second in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

Les Bleus were pushed hard by Italy in Round 1 before losing a high-quality affair to eventual champions Ireland six days later.

That ended a run of 14 successive victories, but Fabien Galthié’s side responded well, with bonus-point successes against Scotland, England – in a record victory at Twickenham – and Wales.

Ending up second overall, France maintained their 80% winning record under Galthié, under whom they have been arguably the most consistent side in the world during this World Cup cycle.

Star performer – Antoine Dupont

There were plenty of candidates, but in truth, this has to be Antoine Dupont. He has more highlight-worthy moments than all other scrum-halves put together, and his performance at Twickenham was simply breath-taking.

He can kick off both feet, threaten defences while bouncing off big forwards, not to mention the sort of defensive work-rate that barely seems possible for a player whose primary role is follow the ball round in attack.

Dupont played every minute of France’s first three matches and missed 16 minutes in total – that was almost a full 80 minutes more than the next most by a scrum-half (Jack van Poortvliet 306) and was a reminder of his importance to the team.

Given France’s performances, others who could have featured here include Charles Ollivon, Damian Penaud, Thomas Ramos and Gaël Fickou, while Jonathan Danty and François Cros were sensational in the two matches they both started.

Breakthrough player – Thibaud Flament

Ethan Dumortier was the only new face in the squad, and played very well in starting all five matches on the wing. But we have to go with Thibaud Flament, who has taken a giant leap this year.

Had Cameron Woki not been injured, he might have had to settle for a place on the bench, but such were Flament’s displays that he surely has to be first choice whoever is fit now.

Two tries at Twickenham showed how well he reads the game and knows how to time a run. His support line and offload for Thomas Ramos’ opener might have been even more impressive. Add in sensational tackling numbers, only Matt Fagerson (83) topped his 81 tackles, missing just three, while he was also France’s go-to man in the lineout. Playing every minute of the campaign, Flament was a star.

A word also for Ramos, who has settled the debate over the French No.15 jersey once and for all. His 84 points are the second-highest total ever over a single campaign, behind only Jonny Wilkinson, while his ability to serve as a second playmaker unleashed a new dimension to France’s attack.

Future prospects

There were some concerns being raised after the scrappy wins over Italy and Scotland that sandwiched defeat in Ireland.

A record 53-10 win in England went some way to answering those difficult questions, while France backed that up by weathering Wales’ best attacking performance of the Championship before pulling away for a convincing success.

France are not the overwhelming favourites for the World Cup on home soil, but have shown enough to be considered among the teams who have good reason to fancy their chances – particularly considering they have lost just once on home soil since 2020.

Beyond 2023, the fact that only three players who started a game have turned 30 – Uini Atonio, Paul Willemse and Romain Taofifenua, means that France will not be in need of a rebuild straight after the World Cup.


In terms of individual moments, it is hard to look past Antoine Dupont’s tackle on Mack Hansen to deny the Ireland winger a seemingly certain try.

But on a more general level, where else can you look but the record victory at Twickenham? That seven-try showing, England’s biggest-ever home defeat, ended an 18-year wait for a Championship success at the ground, and in some style.

It is a performance that will go down as one of France’s greatest ever, capped off by a stunning try from first-phase, a feat that they pulled off again a week later against Wales.

Biggest positives

France’s attack racked up 174 points and 21 tries, their highest tallies in both categories and the most of any team this year. Les Bleus secured bonus points in every game bar their trip to Dublin, and reminded us that when they are at their best, they can cause any team problems.

No team broke more tackles than Les Bleus, who were also very strong in the set-piece, while Ramos’ goal-kicking was exceptional. After a slow start, they found their feet from a tactical perspective and seemed clearer in how they wanted to play the game.


Discipline was an issue early on, particularly against Italy in Rome where France’s struggles at the breakdown almost cost them victory. They managed to turn that around as the competition progressed, notably with the return of Jonathan Danty making a huge difference.

Against Ireland, Galthié felt his team overplayed, particularly in their own half. That led to Damian Penaud scoring a spectacular counter-attacking try, but also gave the eventual champions the territory they needed to build a lead. The necessary balance was found over the next three matches and that is something upon which France will look to build.


The ambition coming into the Championship was to retain the title, so on a basic level, France did not achieve that.

However, with improved performances as the competition wore on, and a magical day at Twickenham, there are still a lot of positives for France to take from the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

Les Bleus remain one of the very best sides on the planet, and at their best, there are few better sights in world rugby. France are still capable of incredible skill and have a team with firepower all over to go with a forward pack that can play at an intensity few can match.