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The apogee for French rugby occurred six-years ago when they played the All Blacks for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. After a terrible 2-2 pool record, including an upset by Tonga, the French moved through the quarters and semis to meet New Zealand for the championship. But the All Blacks prevailed in a dull contest.

Since then, it has been downhill for a team known for its élan. In the 2015 RWC, France went 3-1 in Pool D, losing to Ireland 24-9. Next up in the quarter finals were those All Blacks again, and, while the French press hoped for an upset, the All Blacks routed Les Bleus 62-13, a painful embarrassment.

The 2016 season also indicated continuing problems as France went 2-3 in the Six Nations Championship with but two victories, one against Italy, the second, Ireland. The low standing was overshadowed by England’s undefeated record, a Grand Slam. When England continued to win every match last year, their success only emphasized the decline of rugby in France.

A change to come may occur under the new FFR elected president, Bernard Laporte who ousted Pierre Camou, the residing CEO. Laporte signaled a cautious approach for the future by cancelling the plans for a new and expensive rugby stadium outside of Paris.

The French must retrench for the 2017 Six Nations event that commences in February. Currently, for the French nation, its interest in the national squad is also paralleled by looking enviously at England, and wondering if its cross channel rival will extend their unbeaten skein of 14 games into this year.