Saturday 19 August 2017

Peter Bills: Hard to resist temptation of french riches

Peter Bills

At the Brasserie du Boulevard, we're halfway through choir practice when Jean-Louis arrives. Gee, do we need him -- er, like a hole in the head.

The walls of the small café just up the road from Saint Etienne's Stade Geoffroy-Guichard have been throbbing with the lusty singing of the Toulon rugby fans. When cheerleader-in-chief Jean-Louis arrives with his enormous flag unfurled, the roof all but lifts off with the din. Fans stand on the chairs, their steak, chips and red wine momentarily abandoned, to sing of Toulon's great club.

It was last Saturday, a couple of hours before the French Championship semi-final. Toulon tried their best, even taking Clermont Auvergne to extra-time. But not even the fact that they had participated in one of the great French semi-finals, was a consolation to Toulon. Their 35-29 defeat ended their dreams of a first trip to a French final since 1992.

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