Author Topic: Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?  (Read 163 times)

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Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?
« on: Sun 02 May 2021 15:21 »
Thanks to Channel 4, it was possible to enjoy watching the European Rugby Champions Cup Semi-Final yesterday, with Stade Toulaousain confirming their victory with a superb late try and Wayne Barnes making copious and commendable use of French (perhaps not always 100% accurately, unless my ears deceived me.)

It did, though, raise wistful thoughts of how things used to be. In the 80s and 90s I used to spend every possible holiday break watching Rugby matches in France. (Before discovering the pleasures of German football!) The game in France has largely migrated from smaller towns to big cities. Lyon Olympique Universitaire, now in the Top 14 as simply Lyon, used to be a small club functioning in the lower divisions in a city with little tradition of interest in L'Ovalie. Similarly Montpellier had no great Rugby history. Support from municipal or regional authorities has led to changes of name: Montferrand sadly becoming ASM Clermont-Auvergne being the most obvious example, though many others have added the name of the département. Once mighty clubs no longer feature in the two top divisions - Lourdes, Tarbes, Dax, Narbonne, Mont de Marsan for starters. What chance is there that a club like SC Graulhet from a town with a population of fewer than 15000 people,will ever repeat its success in reaching championship semi-Finals?

In yesterday's match the former Bègles club is now rebranded as Bordeaux-Bègles and its famous blue and white checkerboard shirts were now dark blue, spattered with a ridiculous array of adverts. I know that it is progress, that players have a right to make a living from the game, that clubs need sponsorship and Antipodean mercenaries to maintain their place at the top, that home-grown players will leave their local clubs to play for the city teams. It means a loss of much of the attraction of the local community ethos, but ultimately it is inevitable. I understand that - but I don't like it.

As a refereeing note, my top four officials in those days were

1. The correct and athletic grocer from Riscle, Jacques Saint-Guilhem.
2. The ever-smiling Parisian pedagogue, André Peytavin
3. The energetic Daniel Neyrat from Clermont-Ferrand
4. Another teacher - Michel Lamoulie from Mont de Marsan, whose final ended early through injury, but who became a big cheese in the training and assessment of international referees.

As the joke says, nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
« Last Edit: Sun 02 May 2021 16:31 by JCFC »

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