Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

The Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand.

The man behind me at the checkout in Monoprix early this morning said to the cashier in almost a whisper: “L’Irlande a perdu–Le Pays de Galle a gagné, you heard?”  [Ireland lost, Wales won!]. The cashier gave a Gallic shrug.

(Everyone else this morning–those who were in the open air market that is–a much diminished crowd compared with a normal Saturday–was on tenderhooks.)

“France and England next,” he said, hardly daring to mention the game that was starting in half an hour in Auckland.

The anticipation of this quarter final between the old rivals (enemies!) has been intense; the view pretty pessimistic for the chances of the French team–who have been underperforming for most of the competition. They lost to Tonga, for heavens sake, last Saturday–an unprecedented national humiliation!

Le Roogby” is an obsession here in southwestern France.

Back in 1998, after watching France beat Brazil in the soccer World Cup on a giant screen at the café in Place Jean Jaurés in Castres, we went round the corner for coffee in a nearby bar.

We enthusiastically congratulated the proprietor on the magnificent achievement of being champions of the soccer world.

Oh, c’est pas grand chose,” he said, amazingly unimpressed. [No big deal!]

” Le vrai Coupe du Monde se passe l’an prochain–celle du Roogby!” [The REAL World Championship happens NEXT year–at rugby!]

I played soccer as a kid and have never got to grips with the arcane rules of “rugger”.

A big game though, like this morning’s, can be thrilling.

I settled down with a breakfast bowl of oats, walnuts and yogurt to watch.

I soon wished I’d stayed in the market–the French were playing out of their skins and the excitement in the square would have been palpable.

The unexpected was happening–the national team that had disappointed up to now looked like they were going to win–and not just win –but whip L’Angleterre, the old rival.

Whip them they did–despite an England rally in the second half.

The man in Monoprix may not be whispering now and next week for the semi-final I shall be in Place Jean Jaurés joining in the general cry–Allez les bleus!”

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