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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Paris bloodbath
Brian Moore
Brian Moore
Former England hooker

The 1991 World Cup quarter-final (France 10-19 England) stands out in my mind like it was yesterday.

It was truly confrontational, brutal and ferocious - probably the most physical game I've ever been involved in.

There were a lot of factors which played their part on that day, firstly the history between England and France.

There has always been a mutual distrust and the obvious language differences. Here were two countries that had been at loggerheads for some time.

Micky Skinner goes head-to-head with France's Eric Champ
It actually makes me wince when I watch it all over again

Brian Moore

That was not helped by a war of words in the press that week, culminating in [French full-back] Serge Blanco saying it was his last game at Parc de Princes and he was planning to bring the World Cup trophy home.

That didn't please us. Remember, we were playing in the first knock-out match of the World Cup and there was everything to play for.

It was an extraordinary day. Anyone there will attest to the fact that sporting cliché of being able to cut the atmosphere with a knife was true from the very start.

There was no trepidation but I knew it would be a huge battle. It always was versus France, especially up front. They were a huge pack and not averse to putting themselves about.

The strength of feeling was plain to see at the national anthems when their 18-stone hooker Philippe Marocco started crying.

People were on edge and then the game exploded into life.

Blanco took the high ball and was raked out the back of the ruck. Then Mickey Skinner and Eric Champ went nose to nose and our wing Nigel Heslop got punched by Champ and Blanco.

It was mayhem from the start and a running battle for the whole game.

I remember David Kirk saying on the commentary afterwards that the two sets of forwards hated each other.

France 10
Try: Lafond
Pens: Lacroix (2)
England 19
Tries: Carling & Underwood
Con: Webb
Pens: Webb (3)
That was excessive - hatred in a sporting context was too strong. There was nothing personal as people didn't even know each other, but it was significantly more brutal than any other game.

I had my fair share of involvement too. There was a huge punch-up when I found myself on the wrong side of a ruck.

Someone trod on my face, Peter Winterbottom kicked someone in retaliation and it all set off once more.

It actually makes me wince when I watch it all over again.

Despite everything else, we never lost sight of the game. The ultimate aim was still to win.

It wasn't your stereotype good game of rugby, but people just think rugby is about flinging some nice passes together. It's a confrontational game and I think we defined confrontational that day.

When the whistle went, it was fantastic as they were out and we weren't - it's as simple as that.

Afterwards it all went a bit far when French coach Daniel Dubroca got hold of New Zealand referee Dave Bishop, but that just shows how wound up people were that day.

Brian Moore spoke to Matt Majendie before the Rugby World Cup in 2003

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