Showing posts with label rugby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rugby. Show all posts

Saturday, February 25, 2012

French visitor in Australia

Recently, this emu at Taronga Park on the shores of Sydney Harbour was puzzled:

The bird couldn't be expected to know that the great French 34-year-old rugby international Sébastien Chabal (nicknamed the Caveman) was in Sydney on a working holiday. He had been invited as a guest player in the third-grade Balmain team in a match against Petersham.

Why not have fun while getting paid to visit Down Under? For the moment, Chabal has a bit of time on his hands, since leaving his last club in Paris.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Elixir for next Saturday in Auckland

It's an ancient French beverage, made from grapes. In my native Australia, it's known as plonk.

Full of this stuff, the French fellows won't let the Blacks mess around with them. They won't necessarily win the match… but they wouldn't feel too bad about losing.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What went wrong

I'm aware, of course, that the sense of the word "wrong" in my title depends on whether you were supporting the Wallabies, the All Blacks, the French, etc. I might add that there's even a subtle way of the interpreting this word in the case of observers who are concerned about the future of international rugby in general, as a great game. In any case, over the last weekend, France has witnesed the sudden birth of a vast new generation of rugby wizards, commentators, expert journalists, would-be team managers, coaches, etc. I never imagined that there were so many rugby specialists in France. And here I am, me too, about to jump up onto this bandwagon...

Many French people seem to agree on the following three things:

— It's a pity (whatever that means) that a tired French team, still getting over its combat with New Zealand, got kicked out on Saturday by the English.

— It was not only unexpected, but illogical too, that great teams such as New Zealand and Australia, accustomed to spectacular offensive play, should be bludgeoned out of the competition, at a surprisingly early stage, by the defensive strategies of the Old World.

— It would be good (whatever that means) if South Africa were to emerge as the victorious nation.

The consensus opinion here seems to be that future rugby should be played ideally in much the same way that the Southern Hemisphere is currently doing so, but that teams such as the All Blacks and the Wallabies must invent methods and strategies, urgently, to handle situations in which their uninspired opponents devote all their energy and resources to building brick walls across the field. It's a bit like boxing, where three ingredients are required in every recipe for success:
(a) You need to attack.
(b) You need to be able to defend yourself.
(c) Last but not least, you need to have tricks up your sleeve to know how to deal with an opponent who insists upon doing little more than constantly defending himself.

Put in those elementary terms, rugby sounds almost as if it were nothing more than a mere game.

Aerial urban surveillance

In my article of 29 August 2007 entitled Sydney skies [display], I criticized Australia's decision to place a jet fighter above the city during the APEC gathering. Funnily enough, my scenario about the possibility of an innocent private aircraft getting blasted out of the sky by this fighter almost became a reality.

Later, in my article of 6 September 2007 entitled Stadiums [display], I mentioned the vast security resources that French authorities planned to use during the Rugby World Cup.

It was only yesterday, on TV, that we had a closeup presentation of one of these resources, used in the sky at Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris. Apparently there's a tiny remote-controlled aircraft floating around constantly in the air above the great stadium, and it's video camera can see everything that's happening on the ground. In a control room, several police specialists control the movements of the robot aircraft, and watch the images it provides on a large screen on the wall. The images are so precise that you can easily distinguish human individuals, including groups of people who might be up to mischief.

The female police officer whose job consisted of "flying" the tiny noiseless aircraft explained that, if nobody gets upset about this surveillance method, it's primarily because it's invisible. She added: "Most modern police departments throughout the world are now using this technique." Hearing this, I pricked up my ears. Was the police department in Sydney actually using this approach during the APEC? If so, was the publicity about the jet fighter in Sydney's skies simply a strategy to make people forget about the presence of tiny robot aircraft equipped with video cameras? Was the ban on all other aircraft over Sydney designed to make sure that the little robotic devices would be free to glide around in an airspace free of turbulence and obstacles?

If ever it so happens that Sydney is not yet aware of this new robotic technology, then it might be a good idea if a few Australian police delegates were to visit France, at the end of the rugby matches, to see what it's all about. In making this suggestion, I'm thinking above all of the safety of private pilots wishing to take their family or friends on future joy flights over the Sydney coastline or the Blue Mountains, while unaware that the local police are protecting Important Visitors and searching for potential Troublemakers and Dangerous Terrorists. It would be so much less messy to collide with a tiny robotic drone than to get pulverized by a jet fighter belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why didn't I think of volunteering to play?

How silly of me. Why didn't I have enough imagination to think of sending an email to John Connolly suggesting that he might hire me temporarily as an nth-grade replacement player in the Wallabies team for next Saturday's match against Canada in Bordeaux? He's wrapping so many major Wallabies players in cotton wool—so that they'll be able to take a rightly-deserved rest before the tough action, and avoid the risk of getting injured—that I'm convinced he would have appreciated the services of volunteers such as me, on the spot here in France, to make up the numbers... even if this meant that I would have been obliged to do a crash course in modern rugby rules, which no longer have much to do with the way in which we once thrashed around at school in Grafton [where we played 13-man League, not 15-man Union].

Once upon a time, when a player was about to kick a penalty or attempt a transformation after a try, they hadn't yet invented those plastic support gadgets. So, a team-mate had to lie on the ground alongside the ball and hold the top of it in place with an outstretched index finger. Now, that's the kind of service that I would be perfectly capable of rendering if only I had thought of asking Connolly to hire me in the match against Canada. What's more, I'm sure that some of those Canadian guys speak French. In close encounters, in scrums and rucks, I could have muttered all kinds of dirty insults at them in French, and this would have surely upset the Canadian team. In any case, those bloody Canadians would have been completely destabilized to find an Aussie opponent wearing glasses. I tell you, if ever it's a close match next Saturday, Connolly will certainly regret that I didn't think of asking him to invite me to play.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


A few days ago, in my article entitled Fences and walls, I evoked the use of barriers as protection, as in Sydney this week. In the modern world, there's a new kind of fortress: sporting stadiums. At the outset, it was a matter of defining an enclosed space for sporting events, making it possible to "protect" matches from those who would wish to watch them for free.

Modern stadiums, particularly for soccer matches, are faced with the additional responsibility of protecting players from certain spectators, and separating adverse spectator groups. Here's an aerial photo of the new stadium at Montpellier, to be used for Rugby World Cup matches:

During these events, France will be employing some 27,000 police officers and gendarmes. They'll be aided by 1,500 members of the armed forces, 5,000 firemen and 4,000 first-aid specialists. That sounds like a pretty solid protective barrier... even by John Howard's standards.

Monday, September 3, 2007

First Wallabies training session

In the new rugby stadium at Montpellier named Yves-du-Manoir, the Wallabies trained today in front of an invited crowd of 10,000 spectators. They were also seen on TV, on Saturday evening, visiting the Quai Branly Museum, near the Eiffel Tower, which has special displays concerning the arts and culture of the indigenous people in each of the countries participating in the Rugby World Cup.

Incidentally, Australian rugby fans visiting Paris might like to know that there's a so-called "rugby bar" named Café Oz at 18 Rue St-Denis, in the Halles neighborhood. [Click here to see their amusing website.]

Monday, August 27, 2007

Rugby World Cup

I can't imagine the place or circumstances in which this charming photo was taken. In any case, there won't be any immediate conflict between the two supporters, because Australia and France are starting in different pools.

On the elegant official website [display], there's a countdown to the start of the opening match on 7 September, at Saint-Denis on the edge of Paris.

In the neighboring village of Pont-en-Royans, rugby is a popular sport. The village even has a team, which competes in local competitions. The main village café, called the Picard, is preparing for the forthcoming World Cup matches. The owner, my friend Jean-Noël, has installed big TV screens on his roadside patio, and crowds will no doubt be gathering there to watch the broadcasts. Everybody recalls the tremendous fervor in France associated with the World Soccer Cup, staged and finally won by France, nearly a decade ago, and people are naturally wondering whether things might happen in a similar fashion for the rugby. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Powerful TV commercial

The Italian truck manufacturer Iveco (which also happens to be the world's leading manufacturer of diesel motors of all kinds) has scored a hit with a brilliant TV commercial exploiting the powerful image of the All Blacks. [Click here or on the image to see this commercial. To make it play, you have to choose a language.] There's no doubt that the visual image of the All Blacks and their famous haka has always been a striking symbol. [Click here to see the official website of the All Blacks, which explains the origins of their war dance.] And there's also no doubt that Iveco must have paid a huge amount of money to create this exceptional advertising.