Four of the best Australia vs France rugby matches
Exciting news (or at least rumours) from media pundits, Australia will get the opportunity to take on the French team, in a Rugby World Cup France 2023 warm up match, on Australian soil.
In a time of limited international fixtures, the French team arriving in Australia will add plenty of pre Rugby World Cup flavour for rugby-loving fans.
The match will provide a strong gauge of both nations form leading into the tournament, with France shaping up as early favourites to hold the Webb Ellis Cup aloft in 2023.
Let’s take a look back at four of our favourite Australia-France clashes over the years
Sydney Football Stadium 2014, Sydney
Australia 39 – France 13
When the French toured Australia in 2014, they played a three tests series. As both sides were looking to put their combinations and depth to the test in the lead up to RWC 2015, Australia took a definitive victory with a series clean-sweep.
The series was punctuated by a strong Australian performance in the third match, drowning the French with strength through the middle and expansive backline sweeps.
The match was epitomised by debutant Will Skelton. Scoring a try himself and setting up another, Skelton used all of his two-metre frame to dunk the ball over the line, bumping off and carrying defenders over for his first international try.
It was particularly impressive as the performance came off the back of a drab affair the week before in Melbourne, where the Australians scored a tense 6 nil victory.
Stade de France 2014, Paris
France 29 – Australia 26
Later that year when Australia headed to France, the hemisphere and results switched in a match between the two nations in Paris at Stade de France.
The Australians came into this match brimming with confidence, having beaten a Barbarians side and narrowly edging out Wales in the last stages in their two previous matches.
They met a French side who had put on five tries against a touring Fiji. Instead of the typical “French flair”, Australia were faced with a gritty and determined French outfit who, despite only having a third of the territory and possession, came home off the boot of Camille Lopez.
The defining moment was a Teddy Thomas try towards the end of the first half. Beating several players with a mix of speed and elusiveness, the young winger showed a clean pair of heels and put France ahead 15 – 0. A late comeback from Australia wasn’t enough to snare a victory.
Rugby World Cup 1987 semi-final, Sydney
France 30 – Australia 24
Rugby World Cup is an event filled with drama, emotion, and passion. In 1987 these two sides played out a narrative fitting the big stage. Australia hosted France at Concord Oval, with the winner to book a final appearance in the inaugural RWC.
Australia’s notable injuries prior to the match were only exacerbated on the pitch, losing Brett Papworth in the first half. At the break, the Australians had a slender lead, going to the change rooms ahead 9-6.
The second half was a see-sawing affair, with the lead changing 5 times in an epic RWC duel. Michael Lynagh, having edged the Australians ahead 24-21, only to have the French to peg one back, tying up the scores at 24-all in injury time. Then, the French went on to score one of the best and most iconic tries in rugby history.
During the play, the ball was handled by 11 French players, pinging from one player to another, coast to coast. The French were making scrappy, steady progress, until the final pass from Laurent Rodriguez saw Serge Blanco scamper around the defensive line and over in the corner. Brilliant for France. Painstaking for Australia. Poetry for rugby.
Rugby World Cup 1999 final, Cardiff
Australia 35 – France 12
The French were flying, having knocked out the well-fancied New Zealand side in the semi-final. Australia had progressed through after a kick-a-thon semi-final against South Africa, where eight penalty goals off the boot of Matt Burke saw them progress to the final.
On the world stage at Cardiff, Australia and France played out an emotive and physical bout. France had scored nine tries in their previous two matches against Argentina and New Zealand, but couldn’t cross the white line against the stoic Australian defence.
The first half saw more duelling boots, with Australia going to the break 12 – 6 in front with all points coming from penalty goals. With 15 minutes to play, repeated advantage line success and quick ball movement from Gregan saw Ben Tune crash over out wide in a critical play. Owen Finegan rubbed in the salt with a try before the final whistle, sending out the Australians in a decisive win.
As a prelude to Rugby World Cup France 2023, we will no doubt see another modern classic. Both sides will set out to prove they are contenders for RWC 2023!
Watch this space for travel packages to witness the Wallabies v Les Bleus in a RWC 2023 warm up match.
Warm up matches are great, but if you would like to be there for the real deal, ticket-inclusive travel packages for Rugby World Cup France 2023 are available right now! Check out the links below to view all of our available packages, or simply enquire today and one of our consultants will be in touch!
Experience France and RWC 2023 in style and luxury sailing down the river Seine in our all inclusive, fully guide river cruise tour that culminates with you at the RWC Final! Spots are strictly limited!
Choose from a range of expertly crafted ticket-inclusive travel packages that follow Australia, New Zealand, and the finals across France's most desirable holiday regions and experiences.