France is the only nation to make it to a World Cup final without taking home the Webb Ellis; they have yet to earn rugby’s top honor. Les Bleus made it to the championship games in 1987, 1999, and 2011, although they were defeated in two of the games by the All Blacks in New Zealand (1987, 2011), and by Australia in Wales (1999).
The World Cup matchup between the hosts and the reigning champions has only ever happened once. In a violent downpour at King’s Park in Durban during the 1995 World Cup semifinal, the Springboks defeated France 19–15.
RUGBY WORLD CUP IN FRANCE: SOUTH AFRICA HAS AN UNMATCHED RECORD IN PARIS
Over the course of three Rugby World Cups held in France, particularly in Paris, South Africa had an unrivaled record. From their 12 World Cup games played between 1999 and 2023, the Springboks have won 11 of them. Seven of the ten times the Boks have played in Stade de France, they have won.
Four of the five World Cup games played in France’s national stadium have ended in victories for the defending champions. In 2001 and 2005, the Boks fell to France twice, and in the Rugby World Cup of 2023, they lost to Ireland.
In 1999, the Springboks defeated England 44-21 at Stade de France to earn their first Rugby World Cup victory in France, which shared hosting duties with England, Scotland, and Wales. Jannie de Beer’s five second-half drop goals in this game are legendary.
In order to win the Webb Ellis trophy a second time, South Africa competed in and won all seven of their Rugby World Cup 2007 matches in France. Prior to winning their semifinal and championship games at the national stadium, the Boks played two Pool A games in Paris, one at Parc de Princes and the other at Stade de France.
The Springboks have continued their strong performance in France into this World Cup, winning three of their four Pool games. On Saturday, September 23, Ireland defeated the Boks 13-8 at Stade de France, giving Jacques Nienaber’s team its first loss in Paris.