Top ten Anglo-French sporting classics


Rugby Union - 2017 RBS Six Nations Championship - England vs. France Jonny May of England and Yoann Maestri of France at Twickenham. Image: FOTOSPORT/ANDREW COWIE

A COUPLE of hotly anticipated clashes between English and French sides will take place at BT Murrayfield this weekend, with a Gloucester side featuring Greig Laidlaw and Matt Scott going into battle against La Rochelle on Friday evening at 8pm in the European Challenge Cup Final, before the climax of this year’s gripping Champions Cup takes place on Saturday at 5pm when defending champions Saracens face Clermont Auvergne.

Both fixtures have the potential to join an impressive list of Anglo-French sporting classics –

1. 1966 World Cup

On the road to winning the 1966 football World Cup, England came up against a strong France team in their final group game. Roger Hunt scored twice that day as England recorded a 2-0 victory at Wembley in front of a crowd of 98,270.

2. 1986 Formula 1 Drivers Championship – Alain Prost v Nigel Mansell

Defending champion Alain Prost became the first driver to successfully defend the F1 title in 26 years as he pipped English driver Nigel Mansell to the crown. Mansell led by 6 points going in to the final race of the season, the Adelaide Grand Prix, but a blown tyre scuppered his chances as Prost won by two points in a nail-biting finish to the season.

3. 2014 European Athletics Championship – 100m Final

After becoming the second fastest British man ever over the 100m distance in 2013, Englishman James Dasaolu won his first major title at the 2014 European Athletics Championships in Zurich. Up against French sprinting sensation Christophe Lemaitre, the Brit recorded a time of 10.06 to secure the gold.

4. London 2012 – Men’s Sprint Cycling

After being defeated by Gregory Bauge in the 2012 World Championships, Jason Kenny gained revenge at London 2012 as he stormed to victory in the Men’s Sprint final. Kenny would also play a part in helping the men’s team beat their French counterparts, led by Bauge, to the gold in a world record-breaking time.

5. 1994 Cup Winners Cup Semi-Final – Arsenal v Paris Saint Germain

Played over two legs, Arsenal started brightly in the away leg at a sell-out Parcs des Princes. An Ian Wright goal gave the Gunners the initiative before David Ginola rescued the tie for the home side. Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell scored one of his most important goals for the club in the second-leg as the Gunners progressed. Arsenal would go on to beat Italian side Parma in the final.

6. 2016 Champions Cup Final – Racing 92 v Saracens

Saracens ran out dominant winners against French Top 14 team Racing 92 in the 2016 Champions Cup final to claim their first ever European trophy. Held at the Grande Stade De Lyon, Racing 92 could not make their home-country advantage count as fly-half Owen Farrell kicked every point as they ran out convincing 21-9 winners.

7. 2004 UEFA Cup Semi-Final – Newcastle v Marseille

After negotiating a tense 0-0 affair in the first-leg at St James’ Park, Newcastle travelled to the Stade Velodrome in Marseille for the all-important return leg. Despite creating plenty of chances, a string of saves from Fabien Barthez and a Didier Drogba Newcastle’s dream of reaching the 2004 UEFA Cup final.

8. 1933 Davis Cup Final

During the late 1920s and early 1930s the French Davis Cup team were virtually unstoppable, winning six years in a row. However, in 1933, inspired by the genius of Fred Perry, Britain travelled to Roland Garros and won a first Davis Cup in 21 years in the very last rubber – winning 3-2.

9. 2014 Women’s Six Nations

Having not won a Women’s Six Nations Championship since 2005, France started their campaign off in 2014 with a convincing 18-6 victory over fierce rivals England at the Stade des Alpes. France would go on to complete the Grand Slam that year.

10. Euro 2004

Playing their most high-profile game since the defeat to Brazil in the 2002 World Cup, England faced a world-class French team that included many players plying their trade in the English Premier League.  Played in front of a capacity crowd at the Estádio da Luz, Lisbon, England led 1-0 until the final moments until English hearts were broken by a stoppage-time brace of goals from Zinedine Zidane.

ASM Clermont Auvergne take on Saracens on Saturday May 13th (KO 5PM) in the European Rugby Champions Cup Final. On Friday at 8pm Gloucester face Stade Francais in the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final. Both matches are at BT Murrayfield and tickets can be purchased at .