Gordon D'Arcy's "split memory" of France's historic Croke Park visit

Ex-Ireland centre looks back on the 2007 Six Nations came which was played before the famous England match

BY Raf Diallo 16:40 Thursday 23 February 2017, 16:40 23 Feb 2017

Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy tackled by David Marty of France ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

February 24th is the 10th anniversary of one of Ireland's famous rugby victories.

On that day in 2007, Croke Park played host to the visit of the English and on a night of emotion given the historical circumstances surrounding the game, Ireland delivered with Shane Horgan's 63rd minute try still remembered fondly to this day.

The Irish side won 43-13 at GAA HQ on that occasion.

But the first Ireland rugby appearance on the hallowed turf of Croker came 13 days before when 81,000 packed into the stadium for the visit of France.

Ireland lost 20-17 but as ex-Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy recalled on Off The Ball, there was more to the game than the result. 

"It was a shame but I kind of have almost a split memory on the day because on one hand we lost a Six Nations match but then on the other hand, I'm also a kid from Wexford who played hurling for his whole life until he picked up a rugby ball at 12 years of age," said D'Arcy.

France and Ireland team lineup in Croke Park for the 2007 Six Nations match ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"So the impact of playing on Croke Park was not lost on me on that day. Yet while the result wasn't what we wanted, there was a certain part of me sitting there going 'I'm at Croke Park and I'm going to be one of these group of players who were the first group to play at Croke Park in a foreign sport'. That was really important to me."

He admitted that the occasion did overcome many of the Ireland players on the day unfortunately.

"But it was a brilliant memory to have. But it did get us ready for the next one," said D'Arcy.

That next one of course was the aforementioned victory over the English.

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