Having not seen my daughter since the summer I checked out Saracens fixtures for December then booked the Eurostar to Paris for the weekend they were off and away playing Oyannax. As a frequent traveller (and ball for my daughters’ travels) the trip cost me a mere £44.00. Cheap at half the price!
Now, when due to visit Paris – it’s rude not to see if any rugby matches are on. To my delight Racing Metro were playing Northampton Saints! A top Champions Cup clash, add to that the fact that this match would see Dan Carter make his debut. That just couldn’t be resisted and so I bought 3 tickets very easily through the Racing website.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling slightly circumspect about going to a big sporting event in Paris after the terrible events of Friday 13th November, but it felt wrong to contemplate staying away. I’d seen police officers armed with automatic weapons outside the ground at White Hart Lane, at Racing the men in possession were soldiers. An uncomfortable sight but one I think we’re going to have to get used to.
Everyone had bags and their person searched as they entered the ground, most people had to give their bags in, for some reason I was allowed to keep mine. It was great to bump into fellow Rose Army lady Mandy Edmonds – a very small world this rugby malarkey.
We took our seats, which were 4 rows back and on the halfway line, perfect! When I’d booked the tickets I had an online chat with a fellow Saracens fan who told me he’d have to support the French team as they were playing Saints. Not for me – I joined in with the singing when the Saints fans spread around started up, it did feel a bit odd, but it also felt right! I’ll always support English teams first, no matter what the sport.
There was an air of great excitement in the ground with the legend that is Dan Carter taking to the field for the home team for the first time, I confess I felt the same excitement. I’ve been lucky enough to see Cater play for the All Blacks several times, and seen him in the unusual role of water boy when the AB’s played in Cardiff in 2014. Proving that no player is bigger than the shirt.
Here’s a great article on the All Blacks Ethos – very interesting reading!
I’m not going to go into full match report mode as I’ve already written a fair few words. On the whole I’d say the game was rather like watching men against boys for large spells of the game. In addition to Carter the Racing team was chock full of rugby superstars, with Juan Imhoff and Brice Dulin along with Mike Phillips shone. From what was on show during this game I can see that Phillips and Carter, as long as his heavily strapped leg doesn’t prevent him playing, will form a world class half backs pairing.
Racing Metro seem to have managed to pull their stars together to lay as a team, I’ve seen them in previous years, in particular at Harlequins, when they looked like a group of strangers. This set of men will, I suspect be a wholly different prospect as they were against Saints.
The home team scored 5 tries with Henry Chavancy, Eddy Ben Arous and Brice Dulin touching down in the first half, Carter stepped up and to the delight of the home crowd converted all 3. Dulin added another in the second half and Juan Imhoff who had shown the speed I’d seen doing the World Cup scored a great try to round off the Racing scoring. Amazingly Carter missed the conversion for Dulin’s try – typically it was the one I chose to record! Johannes Goosen kicked the final conversion to take Racing to 33 points.
Saints had a solitary penalty to show for their visit to Paris, Luther Burrell looked to have scored in the first half but he was deemed to have been in touch. During the game we’d thought the TMO had made the decision but it seems the referee had to use the big screen to make the call. I believe the TV commentators thought he was wrong, , might that score have made a difference – we’ll never know.
A try was squandered in the second half after some good attacking play by Saints – the final pass was forward.
I’ve mentioned the Racing backs by name, but the forwards won ball after ball for Racing, in spite of having Victor Matfield, who looked tired, and Courtney Lawes (playing at 6?) Saints were very much outplayed. The stats below tell more of the story of the game.
It was a worry to see George North having his head bandaged – with recent news about concussion seeing a female player and a player in Japan lose their lives, he’s going to be under a spotlight all season I suspect.
I had my daughter Alex, who seems to be learning to love rugby, and her fiancé Gautier with me, we arrived and departed by UBER taxi, I can really recommend the service if you find yourself in Paris.
My next visit to Paris has involved booking the rugby tickets first – France v England at the Stade De France – a must see! Oh, and I make no apologies for the number of photos of Dan!
- Cost of Ticket 55 Euros