The Betrayal Of The Beauty That Was French Rugby

The lights of the Sacre Coeur were visible twinkling in the distance, between the gaps in the tribune sud stand, at Stade de France.

As one, the thronging crowd exited the stadium heading for the nearby bars and cafes, and the RER metro station at La Pleine, their collected breath billowing a rising cloud of mist into the chilly parisian night air.

French fans, silent, heads bowed, with longing in their eyes, longing for the days of Blanco, Sella, Maso, Cantoni, Maso, longing to witness once again the sublime French angles of running, and the sleight of hand that took your breath away.

French rugby used to be poetry and opera, the brutality of the grizzled old forwards, and the artistry of the backs, not the soulless, stodgy slog that recent years have produced

Heading back to the centre of Paris, the steamed up windows of the railway carriage trace the outline of a still lit stadium, as soulless as the French team.

Back at the Gare du Nord a stroll down to the Seine, and the groups that have travelled north from the rugby hotbeds of Agen, Brive, Dax, Beziers, Toulouse ,Toulon and from the Catalan sunshine of Perpignan, congregate on the pont neuf and stare down into the waters of the river below, with disappointment and sadness in their eyes, and a feeling of betrayal to the “rugby ghosts of yesteryear.

The moon light glints against the silvery towers of notre dame, it is time to forget.

Time for “steak frites” and a large glass of rouge.

It is awful to lose, and it is awful to lose betraying the talents that exist in French rugby, but there isn’t a better city in the world to taste defeat than Paris.

As a Welshman I pray that one day soon I will see those angles of running, and sight of hand, from les bleus once again, the game is all the poorer without them.


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