Reminders remain constant. Worst of all was watching the All Blacks wind up against Argentina on Friday in a semi-final that was sorely lacking in Zombie Nation. Then there’s their media schedule this week and imagining what could have been. Then, the Springboks fielded not one, but two Irish internationals in Rugby World Cup final week – first and second!
Paris and the World Cup wouldn’t be the same without Ireland and, of course, the hosts. The traveling Irish media corps has been reduced to skeletons, not having the slightest sense that this is the final weekend of the World Cup.
l’Équipe on Saturday focused, again, on Paris St Germain and their upcoming home games against Strasbourg and Milan in the Champions League. The first 21 pages are devoted to Ligue 1 before six pages to rugby; it was the morning after the first World Cup semi-final and before the second, where France would play but for their quarter-final loss to the Springboks.
There will also be fewer All Blacks fans in Paris than was the case in 2007 when they toured the French capital in somber crowds with their team returning home after their quarter-final defeat in France.
Marching to their own beat, as usual, the All Blacks changed their media days from the Roland Garros media center to the exclusive old world charms at their Paris Country Club base. However World Rugby held a press conference to announce their plans for a biennial international competition and an expanded 24-team World Cup in 2027, ensuring around four hours of train travel. , bus and taxi to attend both.
Such is the way of reducing the cost of France 2023 and World Rugby in this World Cup that a final without the hosts and most supported fighting side suffered accordingly for the profile.
Not that the Paris Country Club will be cheap for any rugby squad to stay there. Located in the Portes de Paris, just ten minutes from the Place de l’Étoile, the Paris Country Club describes itself as “a high-end private club” located in the heart of the Saint-Cloud racecourse in the Hauts-de- Seine.
In addition to the four-star Renaissance Paris Hippodrome de St-Cloud hotel, the club has a variety of sporting, entertainment and relaxation activities. It includes a gym/fitness club, swimming pool, SPA, solarium, cinema, nursery, a tennis club with several indoor and outdoor courts, as well as the Golf de Paris, with six hole, which is ringed by St. -Cloud racecourse.
On the last sunny day of the week, Jason Ryan, Dalton Papali’i and Shanon Frizell held court here on Tuesday, while Sam Cane sat for some TV interviews adjacent to the racecourse, and not far from the stables where King Louis XIV kept himself. horses.
In contrast, a 60km journey north of the city center where the Springboks held their media conferences this week, including Jean Kleyn on Monday and Felix Jones, on Wednesday, at the Salle Jeanne d’Arc, a 15 minutes walk from the nearest. train station in the gray suburbs of Presles, which is definitely not very Parisian.
Outside, above a statue of Jeanne d’Arc, a plaque was placed on the grey-stoned wall on May 4 2010 by the singer Charles Aznavour and Pierre Roche’s family commemorating their debut as a duet here in 1943. Noticed by Edith Piaf, the duo then accompanied her on a world tour.
Roche must have Irish origins but no amount of internet research can establish anything. Born in Beauvais in northern France in 1919, Roche was a pianist and composer, as well as a singer, and while performing in a Montreal cabaret with Aznavour met and fell in love with the young French-Canadian who would singer Jocelyne Deslongchamps, who later became known as Aglaé. They married, and after Aznavour pursued a solo career in the 1950s, Roche and Aglaé formed a duet, returning to France, before settling permanently in Quebec in 1963, where Roche died in January 2001. Aznavour had a successful career and died in 2018 at the age of 94.
The interior of the old musical theater looks like it hasn’t changed one iota and is reminiscent of the theater in The Godfather II scene where the young Vito Corleone, played by Roberto de Niro, is taken by his friend Clemenza to a operatic play. which featured an actress he had been eyeing, and where they first met local crime boss Fanucci, whom Vito killed.
This setting for the ‘Boks press conferences appears more surreal with the different music played before, and with Kleyn, Jones and everyone sitting in chairs behind a table on stage with burgundy curtain drawn.
There were 25 or so journalists in attendance, along with about half a dozen TV crews, which might as well have been the Salle Jean d’Arc that couldn’t fit more. The Springboks’ press conferences are generally more giving than the All Blacks, and less rushed than Ireland’s. It seems a bit much for the week of a World Cup final, the build-up of which has been overshadowed by the infamous saga surrounding Tom Curry’s claims of being racially abused by Bongi Mbonambi.
Andy Colquhoun, SARU’s general manager of corporate affairs, avoided any questions about the affair, or kantgate as it is called in South Africa, although surprisingly Rassie Erasmus kept a low profile. Perhaps the Mbonambi/Curry narrative played into his and the Boks’ us-against-the-world mentality, but the build-up could have done with a little more input from Rassie.
Summer has long given way to a cooler, wetter autumn, it’s a long week to finish a long two months.