Six greatest Stade de France matches

Since France switched to its new home of the Stade de France, the stadium has played host to many memorable match-ups.

Since France switched to its new home of the Stade de France, the stadium has played host to many memorable match-ups.

And with France set to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup – this feels like a good time for a trip down memory lane.

So here are six of the greatest matches at the Stade de France from 1998 onwards when the stadium in the suburb of St Denis became their new home.

France 24-17 England, 1998

On February 7, 1998 – the new gleaming stadium opened its doors for an international rugby match for the first time in the Five Nations.

England were the visitors and France expected a victory to celebrate their new home.

And Les Bleus duly provided it, racing into a 15-3 half-time lead that they never looked like relinquishing thereafter.

Philippe Bernat-Salles and Christophe Dominici crossed for the French tries while Neil Back and the boot of Paul Grayson kept England close.

But drop goals from Thomas Castaignede and Jean-Luc Sadourny also proved vital as France downed their Le Crunch rivals en route to the Grand Slam – their second in a row.

France 25-27 Ireland, 2000

The turn of the century saw the inception of the Six Nations era and France’s first Stade de France game was not quite as auspicious as they would like.

The game was famous for another reason however, as Brian O’Driscoll announced himself to the rugby world with an incredible hat-trick.

Ireland had not won in Paris in 28 years and O’Driscoll, already a name on many lips in Ireland due to his international breakthrough, was now a man to watch on the world stage.

The centre grabbed three tries – all converted by Ronan O’Gara – and in the end they had to withstand Gerald Merceron’s boot to claim a 27-25 victory.

France 44-5 Ireland, 2002

Two years later though and France under Bernard Laporte claimed a serious slice of revenge over the men in green.

In claiming a totally dominant 44-5 victory, Les Bleus became the first country to win the Grand Slam in the Six Nations era.

And it was Merceron again who did the damage with 16 points from the kicking tee but Les Bleus also ran in five tries to claim a magnificent win.

Serge Betsen and Nicolas Brusque both bagged doubles while Aurelien Rougerie also dotted down on a famous day in St Denis.

France 24-21 England, 2004

France were celebrating another Grand Slam once again two years later.

This time it came against the World Cup winners England – who had won the Grand Slam the year before and knocked France out in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Imanol Harinordoquy crossed for an early try for France but the victory really belonged to Dimitri Yachvili.

The diminutive scrum-half, so often England’s nemesis in this era, crossed for a try and claimed a personal haul of 19 points as France claimed a 24-21 success.

France 33-10 Ireland, 2010   Their next Grand Slam did not arrive until 2010 – but it was worth the wait.

Mathieu Bastareaud was new on the scene and the wrecking ball centre was nigh on unstoppable in an impressive 33-10 victory over Ireland.

William Servat, Yannick Jauzion and Clement Poitrenaud from that dominant Toulouse team of Europe all crossed for tries for Les Bleus.

This victory set them on the way to the Grand Slam, secured with a narrow 12-10 win over England, but this was the high point of the Championship.

Ireland were of course coming into the game as the reigning Grand Slam champions but France got to work early and often in an impressive victory.

France 21-31 England, 2016

Last but by no means least, is the Super Saturday classic of 2016 that pitted the old enemies France and England together once again.

England under Eddie Jones were looking to claim a first Grand Slam in 13 years while France had little but pride to play for after defeats to Scotland and Wales in rounds three and four.

But Guy Noves’ side ran an all-conquering England closer than any other team that year with an impressive display.

Maxime Machenaud slotted seven penalties for Les Bleus as they refused to go away despite England hitting them with their best shot time after time.

Danny Care, Dan Cole and Anthony Watson all crossed for the Red Rose but it was only when Owen Farrell slotted a late penalty to secure a 31-21 margin that England could finally celebrate.