A coach load of Irish fans set off from a surprising sunny Reading early on Friday morning. Spirits were high and everyone was looking forward to the relatively short coach trip from Reading to Paris.
The entertainment on the coach was provided by b.q.f.m who had brought along a selection of DVDs. However to the disappointment of some on the coach it wasn’t “Debbie does Dallas” instead we got a great selection of games that included Wasps (56-37), the Quins (“I bet you he misses”) semi-final and the Powergen cup final against Saints.
A few hours later, we arrived in Dover and jumped on the ferry for just long enough to let everyone recharge their batteries at the bar and raid the duty free. As this was my first european trip, I took the opportunity to chat to some of the european veterans on the ferry about their previous travels abroad, It was clear that this weekend was going to be a memorable one. Duty free in hand everyone (including Kieran albeit minus his phone) stumbled onto the Coach for the final leg of the journey. The duty free was cracked open, passed around and everything was going well until we hit the Friday night Parisian traffic.
2 hours later than planned we arrived at the hotels, with everyone tired after the long trip some decided to called it a night, while the rest of us ventured onto the Metro in search of Corcoran’s Irish Pub in Clichy. With a little help from Google Maps we eventually managed to find Corcoran’s at just after 11pm and as expected the price of beer was around the €7 mark. Before long though it was time to head off to make the last Metro home at 2am, which was just about managed as the gates were closing at Mairie de Clichy.
Match Day! Instead of getting up early and going sightseeing, I opted for an extra few hours in bed (which worked out pretty well considering we got to see quite a lot of Paris on the coach to the game). Finally after dragging myself out of bed, I ventured back onto the metro in search of Corcoran’s Irish Pub in Grands Boulevards, which we made our home for the weekend. It wasn’t long until more of the traveling support (who had taken slightly more sensible travel options to Paris) showed up and joined in the pre-match drinking. Again we were herded back onto the coach (much to the displeasure of some members who feared they might sober up on the way) and made our way to the game.
Once we reached the ground we were all armed with Irish flags. Everyone stumbled off the coach and into a small bar just outside the ground. Plenty more beer was consumed, along with meeting the friendly Racing Metro fans. Even Thomas, our coach driver had agreed to join us for his first rugby match. An hour after we arrived we had the pleasure of witnessing the pre-match entertainment, which involved the police trying remove an illegally parked Smart car from the side of the road, much to the amusement of everyone in the bar. After a few more beers it was time to stumble off to find my seat ready for kick off. The Stade Olmpique Yves-du-Manoir is an impressive stadium, although it might lack some facilities it comes together to create a great rugby atmosphere (even if the beer does cost €5 for 30cl)
The match began with an exchange of penalties, with Racing Metro edging into a 6-3 lead after 15mins. A few minutes later a nice chip behind the Irish defence was collected by Bobo, who exchanged a quick return pass before sprinting along the touchline and touching down. It wasn’t long before Racing Metro were camped in front of the Irish goal line again but opted for the drop goal instead of moving it wide, extending their lead to 14-3. It didn’t take long for Irish to respond. A good run from Thompstone gave Irish good front foot ball and allowed Jarvis to poke through a kick behind the rush defence for Topsy Ojo to scoop up before offloading to Spratt who reached out to touch down to drag the score back to 14-10. That was how the first half finished. The first half effort did however take its toll on Irish with Dan Bowden limping off injured (replaced by Adrian Jarvis) and Chris Hala’ufia injuring his arm in a trademark Hala’ufia “tackle” (replaced by Jamie Gibson).
The travelling Irish fans really found their voice in the 2nd half and the players responded with a superb performance. Treviranus (Big Trev) broke free of a few lack luster tackles from the Racing Metro defence before an infrigement allowed Jarvis to slot over an easy 3 points to bring Irish to within 1 point. Some brilliant defensive play from Irish followed, big tackles and Matt Garvey stripping the ball allowing Topsy Ojo to clear. Scrappy play from Racing Metro after a 22 drop out lead to an Irish scrum and the quick ball from the scrum allowed Joe Ansbro to race past some more lack luster tackling to dive over to score Irish’s second try of the night, much to the delight of the traveling fans. From the restart Irish were on the attack again, a chip forward was dived on by Matavesi but Ansbro and Thompstone were quick to pounce and dragged him over the try line for a 5 meter scrum. Racing Metro again dominated at the scrum but more quick ball from the base allowed Allinson to find Jarvis, who popped a lovely inside ball to Thompstone to race through for the 3rd try. Jarvis converted to put Irish into a 13 point lead (14-27) with just over 20 minutes remaining.
The two tries seemed to wake Racing Metro up but yet again some superb last ditch defending from Irish denied them, despite being camped on the Irish 5 meter line for a good 7 minutes and being held up twice. Eventually Racing Metro gave away a penalty which gave Irish the chance to clear. With time running out Racing Metro had to take chances to get back into the game which gave Thompstone the perfect opportunity to run out of the defensive line and intercept a pass and touch down for the all important bonus point.
I’d be lying if I said I could remember the last part of the match, combined with the duty free whiskey and Pans toping up my beer every 10 minutes things became a bit of a blur. I’m lead to believe there was some more good defence from Irish before Jarvis booted the ball out to confirm a 14-34 win, and most importantly a Bonus point win!
After the match had finished everyone headed down to the front of the stands to clap the players off the pitch, but to our surprise the barriers were opened and we almost encouraged to invade the pitch. The players were fantastic and stuck around chatting to fans and posing for pictures for long after the final whistle. After the players had left, a few of us decided to follow b.q.f.m’s lead and head around to the coaches to meet some of the players we had missed on the pitch. Then after a bit of an adventure on the French buses we arrived back at Corcoran’s for yet more beer.
Here ended another great evening, but not before yet another Metro adventure (which at times felt more like a scrum than a train journey). The next morning some groggy and tired fans stumbled onto the coach for the journey back to Reading and the end of a fantastic weekend in Paris.
I’d like to end the report by thanking Kezia and Steve for arranging the coach, hotels and pubs (and for not losing anyone in Paris). Thomas, our fantastic driver who will hopefully come back to watch Irish play again. Everyone on the coach for making the weekend a memorable one. All the other traveling Irish fans, who helped create a fantastic atmosphere. Thank you to the London Irish team and coaches, it meant a lot to the fans staying out on the pitch after the game. Last, but not least, thank you to the Racing Metro supporters for being so welcoming and friendly. We look forward to having you at the Mad Stad this weekend.
Not supposed to be able to, but unlike us the French take the attitude towards EU Diktats that rules are made for the guidance of wise men and the strict observance of fools.
Nothing do with the EU - smoking bans are national decisions.
OK perhaps not smoking bans, but that's how the EU is clever. It tells nation states they must implement the EU's idea in their own law.
Hey! Presto! Not the EU's fault!
I'm never quite sure who "the EU" is in these situations. EU laws have always had to be signed off by Council representatives (i.e. made up of national ministers) and more recently have included the European Parliament in more decision-making procedures (so perhaps people should pay more attention during EP elections?)
The "bureaucrats" I suppose people are referring to are the European Commission but they can only propose law, not make them.
Apart from that, great report!
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2011:12:16:07:13:56 by antoinog.
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