WATCH: Relive French flair in rugby at its fluid best

The cavalier approach won many fans in a bygone era

BY Raf Diallo 16:36 Thursday 11 February 2016, 16:36 11 Feb 2016


There's a documentary about the French national football team that is well worth a watch.

In Football: More Than A Game a concept is expanded upon - the sense that the French national side could never marry victory with beauty of play.

Indeed cultural historian Dr Andrew Hussey, who appears regularly throughout puts it succinctly in two sentences: "There's always been a conflict in French football culture. Should we win or should we go out and play brilliantly?"

As Ireland prepare to take on France in another code - Six Nations rugby in the beautiful city of Paris - Les Bleus have changed much from the offerings of decades ago.

While France coach Guy Noves has "the aim of playing a different form of rugby to recent years" - hence the omission of battering ram centre Mathieu Bastareaud from the tournament squad - those recent years have seen France play a far less attractive style of rugby without ensuing success at Six Nations or World Cup level.

Indeed the humiliation inflicted on them by New Zealand in the World Cup quarter-finals was a wake up call, even if another problem is less a question of style but of tension between the requirements of the Top 14 clubs and the national team.

As Keith Wood recalled on Off The Ball last night, the cavalier backdrop of French rugby was a beautiful thing.

"Noves is a throw-back. I would still go and say that the best performance of rugby I've ever seen in the club game is playing for Harlequins against Toulouse," he said.

So let us recall some of France's best moments at their stylish, swaggering best in the international game.


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