Stade de France blues: A look back at Ireland’s last five visits
Stade de France doesn’t hold the same fear factor as it once did for visiting Ireland sides
Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll celebrates at the final whistle after they beat France in Paris to win the Six Nations title in 2014. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho
For a long time it was Ireland’s bogey game. Going to face France on their home turf in the Six Nations there was only one outcome expected. That changed in 2014 when Ireland broke the curse and beat the French in their own back yard but then returned in 2016 when Les Bleus got the better of the visitors in a tight game. As Ireland’s opener in 2018 it presents a chance for Joe Schmidt’s side to lay down a marker and put to bed the ghosts of old.
2016 – France shade an ugly clash
France 10 Ireland 9: It was the game in which Ireland’s title chances slipped from their grasp after dropping points in a draw with Wales the previous week. Facing an inexperienced French side Ireland frittered away chances galore before the home side’s bench made the difference in the second half, Maxime Medard crashing over for a game-winning try with 10 minutes to go. It was quite a brutal, rain-soaked encounter with Joe Schmidt’s injury list the main talking point after the game. With many of the Ireland players from that day still around the squad this year there should be a whiff of revenge in the air when the sides lineout at the Stade de France.
2014 – Ireland break the curse and take the title
France 20 Ireland 22: Finally they did it. A full 14 years after Ireland’s last win on French soil, they came and conquered in Paris. And what an occasion it was. A thrilling two-point win was enough for Ireland to seal the Six Nations title and see Brian O’Driscoll bow out of international rugby in the most fitting fashion. It also marked the perfect end to Joe Schmidt’s first season in charge and, as he so often has, the coach had Jonathan Sexton to thank after the Leinster man’s 17-point haul at the Stade de France led Ireland to a famous victory that few will forget.
2012 – Draw leaves both sides disappointed
France 17 Ireland 17: Ireland could probably argue that they deserved the win from this game more than the hosts but that’s not how the game works. A tight affair ended with the points being split, Ireland’s title chances effectively over and the Grand Slam aspirations of France put to bed. No winners then, in any sense. On a strange occasion where there were very few Irish fans present in Paris due to the fact that the game had been postponed due to a frozen pitch three weeks earlier and then rescheduled, Ireland were in the driving seat at half-time. Ahead on a score of 17-6 thanks to two Tommy Bowe tries, the visitors stalled in the second half, allowing France to come back and snatch a draw that left both sides ultimately disappointed.
2010 – Unstoppable France carve Ireland open
France 33 Ireland 10: Billed as a potential Six Nations decider it quickly became clear that there was a gulf in class between the two teams and it was France who were on the right side of it. The likes or Morgan Parra and Freddie Michalak were at their very best for the home side and Ireland simply couldn’t live with it. An early sin-bin for Cian Healy allowed France to take the lead and from there they would never surrender it with three tries and Parra’s faultless kicking giving them a second victory of the campaign and the springboard which would see them go on to complete the Grand Slam.
2008 – Clerc’s hat-trick puts paid to Ireland’s hopes
France 26 Ireland 21: Irish losses at the Stade de France were becoming all too familiar at this stage but at least there were some positives to take from this one. Vincent Clerc’s stunning first half hat-trick of tries gave the home side a commanding lead at the break but Ireland did manage to put on a stirring fightback in the second half. David Wallace’s try, a penalty try and three Ronan O’Gara penalties gave Ireland hope but in the end France had too much and held on the complete a victory that would, in the end, prove to be the difference between the two teams in the final table as Wales took the title.