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Rugby's Indian Summer.
« on: September 07, 2007, 06:34:31 PM »

Rugby's Indian Summer
(Rugby News Service) Sunday 2 September 2007
By Jean-Charles Delesalle

  Partout en France, la "mayonnaise" commence ŗ prendre...

PARIS, 2 September - It started as a trickle but for the last week reports have started flooding in from all four corners of France of an unprecedented tide of enthusiasm engulfing the IRB Rugby World Cup.

The French danced in the streets in 1998 when Zinedine Zidane inspired the countryís soccer team to a glorious World Cup triumph over the boys from Brazil but rugby in France has usually interested only the cognoscenti living south of the river Loire.
Too complicated

Think of it. The world of rugby union used to attract only those who had played it or had a son or brother playing it. It had the reputation of a complicated sport  weighed down with unfathomable rules and where to go forward you have to throw the ball backwards. So apart from the odd mum or sister, the fairer sex was usually noticeable by its absence from the rugby terraces.

French mayonnaise

Suddenly, not only have 85 % of match tickets been sold but the French on both sides of the gender barrier have discovered an  appetite for the game. Slowly but surely the mayonnaise has been whisked to a head.

Warm welcome

Whether itís the 12,000 men, women and children who flocked to see the Australian Wallabies go through their first training session at Montpellier on the Mediterranean coast,  the usually insular Corsicans giving the New Zealand All Blacks a passionate welcome, or the normally hard-to-please Parisians going head-over-heels over the dashing young men from Argentina when they stepped off the train at the Gare du Nord, everyone agrees on one thing. France has been hit by a wave of rugby.

Indian summer       
Itís well known that rugby folk know how to enjoy themselves and it looks as if this Rugby World Cup will lift the gloom over a country which endured its wettest summer in 50 years. And if the Tricolors do go all the way, then it really will be an Indian summer festival of Red, White and Blue come October 20.

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