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"We'll always have Paris" | Iconic Irish rugby moments in the Stade de France

The stadium, in the leafy northern suburbs of Paris, has played host to some of Irish rugby’s greatest moments.


"We'll always have Paris" | Iconic Irish rugby moments in the Stade de France

When it comes to rugby away days, the Six Nations has always had plenty in offer in terms of enticing matchday experiences.

Depending on how the fixtures fall, you could be jetting off to take in an exciting game at the Stadio Olimpico in enchanting Rome, watching a tense encounter with the English in Twickenham, or heading up the highlands to face the Scots in Murrayfield.

However, in terms of iconic venues in Irish sporting history, few come close to the Stade de France in the leafy northern suburbs of Paris. 

It was here on a dark November evening in 2009 that Thierry Henry infamously steadied the ball with his left hand and dinked it into William Gallas to score and end Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Vincent Clerc, who regularly broke Irish hearts during his career, notched up a hat-trick of tries as Ireland fell just short of a famous comeback victory here in the 2008 Six Nations.

Paris: Bright moments in the City of Light

That’s not to say that there haven’t been some brighter days for the Men in Green here. Indeed, the stadium, opened in 1998, has played host to some of Irish rugby’s greatest moments.

In Round 4 of the 2000 Six Nations Championship, a young centre by the name of Brian O’Driscoll cut the French defence to ribbons. 

Announcing himself to the world with a sensational hat-trick of tries, his performance guided Ireland to their first win in Paris since 1972. 

O’Driscoll managed to bookend his international career with another famous win over Les Bleus here in 2014. 

The two old foes played out a classic to close that year’s Championship, with Ireland edging 22-20 and claiming the title. 

3 February 2018; Jonathan Sexton of Ireland celebrates with team-mates after kicking the match winning drop goal during the NatWest Six Nations Rugby Championship match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France in Paris, France. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

And how could we forget 2018? In the dying embers of the game, the Irish went through 41 phases of play before Jonathan Sexton slotted home a titanic drop-goal attempt to hit the French where it hurts.

In other words, this Saturday’s game will have a lot to live up to. 

But you have two teams, Ireland and France, who are in red-hot form at the moment. 

You have a fixture which many are predicting to be the pivotal game in deciding who will be crowned this year’s Six Nations champions. 

You have a stunning venue in the Stade de France, the crown jewel in French sport, in Paris, one of the most breathtaking cities in the world.

Safe to say, when Saturday evening rolls around and everyone gets set for the coup d’envoi (kick-off), there is no doubt that the Stade de France will be the best place to take in this unmissable clash.

Aer Lingus is the official airline sponsor of the Irish rugby team, bringing 'Home Advantage' to wherever the team plays.

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