24 September 2007

England V Samoa, a view from a England Fan

Before writing this post I must disclose that I live in France, love the country and people and am married to a French woman and my kids are by the result, half French/half English.

So, moving on, I drove to Nantes on Saturday to watch the England V Samoa world cup rugby match. It was a hugely significant fixture for us English, firstly because we are the current Champions and secondly because we had to win otherwise we would be out.

The stadium at Nantes is small, seats around 37,000. When the national anthems were played, the stadium rocked with "God save the Queen" and was silent during the Samoan anthem, out of respect and the fact they probably had 100 supporters in the stadium. As soon as the game started, the atmosphere was absolutely electric, "Swing Low" could be heard throughout the stadium. England scored early and everything seemed great. Then Jonny Stepped up to take his first conversion kick..

The crowd, a huge number, started to boo. The fans surrounding me wearing English shirts, looked at one and other stunned, surely the English haven't turned against our World Cup hero. Then the blue beret's came out, the seemingly "English" fans around us were French, not only that, some were even wearing England shirts. This abuse continued through-out the game, every time the Samoans pushed forward the stadium would chant "Allez les Bleus". The French in the stand appeared to outnumber the English, certainly their voices anyway.

Tempers were rising within the stand, the English were clearly annoyed with the torrent of boo's and "allez". One young guy stood up and shouted "Don't cry for me Argentina", the crowd just stared at him blankly. Another guy was asking a large group of "suits" whether they would be angry if their team was constantly booed, again, blank faces..

I have been to many International rugby matches and have never seen this before, the atmosphere was ruined, killed by those chanting and booing. Normally, you would expect banter within the crowd, as the week before at South Africa, very light hearted and plenty of joking around. Many people had traveled for over 16 hours to get there, costing €105 for the ticket alone plus the associated travel costs on top of that. Those sat next to me were shocked and annoyed that they were unable to enjoy the atmosphere.

Why did they do it? I am still at a loss, ultimately, it was probably the only chance many of the locals would have of watching a World cup game, should they have done it? No, absolutely not, would you? Maybe I am just being too sensitive.

Below is a clip from my camera giving an idea of the noise surrounding us.


Drew B said...

That's loud! Cleared me out first thing in the morning!!

Drew B said...

That's loud! Cleared me out first thing in the morning!!

Sports Fan said...

Tell me about it, 80 mins was enough I tell you!