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French Rugby Column March 1 || By: Howard Johnson

April 24, 2020 2 min read

Well it turned out to be a good day not to be Welsh in my regular
drinking den, Chez Piou, last Friday. After galvanising the locals into
watching a big sporting event in the bar, English-style, with the offer
of a very traditional French dish of mussels and chips, boss man Piou
will have been pleased to have drawn around 40 folk of varying
nationalities to watch the French turn over the Welsh in their own
backyard.

Somewhat less pleased was the one brave fella who turned up for the
game wearing the bright red shirt of Wales. He’s lived in the area for
over a decade, apparently, but I’d never seen him before. Yet this lack
of visibility didn’t stop him from gamely trying to teach the locals a bit
of Welsh, despite my baiting whereby I explained to any Frenchman
who would listen that Welsh was a language that was even less useful
than the local patois, Occitan! Ouch!

By the end of the night our solitary Welsh friend had been gently put
in his place after France took the spoils and the locals filled their boots
with good-natured piss-taking. It seemed that there was only one way
for a defeated foreigner to respond and this he duly did by drowning
his sorrows with a number of glasses of something alcoholic or other.
Fortunately a kindly English soul had already taken on driving duties
and the responsibility of getting the defeated Welshman home safely.
Perhaps he’d seen this coming! I think we all had, really. The French
have been quite comfortably the strongest side in this year’s Six

Nations and always looked to have enough in their locker to see off a
Welsh side that has only seemed capable of playing in fits and starts
during this campaign. So it proved and Marc Lievremont’s boys must
be feeling more confident by the hour of notching up a 2010 Grand
Slam.

Certainly the French media seems to think so. The following day’s
medicinal cup of strong black coffee in the same bar was accompanied
by local paper ‘La Depeche’s headline of ‘The Grand Slam Gets Closer’.
That’s an indisputable fact, of course. But the French would do well to
remain focused on the task at hand. There are, after all, still two
games to go, including the potential banana skin of a last day meeting
with their perennial bogey team England on March 20. Despite all the
evidence pointing to the fact that France should be able to swat
England aside with relatively little difficulty, we’ve still seen the English
put a spanner in French works on any number of rugby occasions over
the last few years.

This much I pointed out to the bus driver who
regularly picks up my son to take him to school the Monday after the
weekend’s games. “So what happened to England?” he asked me,
clearly enjoying reliving our average performance against the Irish at
Twickenham on Saturday. I smiled politely and didn’t say too much.
After all, revenge is a dish best tasted cold, isn’t it?!