Monday 14 October 2019

French fans meet their Waterloo as Irish team rediscover joie de vivre

Victory: Olivier Sean Renedo, from Rathmines, Dublin (far left), with French fans from Alsace dressed as Napoleon. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Victory: Olivier Sean Renedo, from Rathmines, Dublin (far left), with French fans from Alsace dressed as Napoleon. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Ireland dominated a weak French side at the Aviva Stadium, with the Green Army daring to believe the Six Nations title could come home once again.

The 26-14 result should've been enough to send French fans packing without so much as a backward glance.

But the French, who sang throughout most of the painful match at the Aviva, maintained their joie de vivre.

And a camaraderie was shared among the celebrating Irish and the visiting fans, who recognised their side had let them down.

Half-French, half-Irish five-year-old Olivier Sean Renedo, from Rathmines, Dublin, attended the game with his Irish mother Marion and French father Pascal Renedo.

"For the Irish part of our family, this is great," Marion said.

"The atmosphere was fantastic inside the Aviva. Olivier had an amazing time. He's delighted we won but his father might be a little upset."

Pascal, who wore a French rugby shirt and Irish scarf, admitted he was "disappointed but delighted for an Irish win".

"I am half and half," he added, laughing.

But one little boy who couldn't feel more Irish and proud yesterday was eight-year-old Cavan McGourty, from Co Roscommon.

Named after the county from where his grandmother hailed, Cavan, who is originally from Kent in England, dreams of playing rugby for Ireland one day and the match cemented this hope more than ever.

"I moved from England to Ireland two years ago with Cavan," mother Siobhán McGourty said. "We felt more Irish than English, as I'd been brought up Irish by an Irish family and now all Cavan wants to do is play for Ireland."

Grace Wallace (53) and husband Damien (56), from Co Cork, enjoyed the game but Grace felt Irish fans "could have sang a bit more".

"The French may have been losing but they never stopped singing," Grace said.

"At one stage I actually thought we were in Paris."

The French remained in good spirits despite the hammering and friends Jean Boudy, Gietes Marcoul, Eric Clement and Vincent Pannetrat, from Paris, were planning a post-match dinner at a French restaurant in Dublin.

"It was not a good game for us," Jean said.

"We never touched the ball. The next time we come to Dublin, perhaps we shall only come for the last five minutes of the game to sing."

A strong French presence was witnessed leaving the stadium as 16 Napoleons, from Alsace, paraded the streets, providing picture-perfect moments for Ireland fans.

Ireland's bonus-point win now means if there is a victory against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, Ireland could still claim the title.

However, that would need an England calamity against Scotland at Twickenham.

Irish Independent

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