Paris vs. Toulouse vs. Me
Last night I went to my first rugby match, Paris vs. Toulouse. I went with a guy that was writing a story for a newspaper. I was going because I have an extraordinary amount of time on my hands and he gave me a ticket. He explained the rules of rugby as he jotted down notes in his professional journalist notebook. Not to be out done I began jotting notes of my own on scraps of paper in my coat pocket. One of my quickly written reminders was, “Man, it’s cold out here.”
The second note I wrote was commenting just how pink it all was. The Paris team colors are pink and pink. The flags they wave are pink, their outfits are pink, the lays around the fans necks are pink, even the track around the stadium is pink. It’s all very…pink. Their rugby shorts might have been pleated, I couldn’t tell.
The opening entertainment was straight out of Vegas- there were blowup dragons and green sleezaks on stilts. An elephant, draped in a pink costume, was led around the pitch. Appropriately enough everyone saw the elephant and knew it was there but no one mentioned it. The players ran to the field, a loud pop was heard, which wasn’t a gun and streamers were dropped unto the field from the sky. The gold and silver streamers covered the playing field and the game began. “Very messy, poorly thought out” I noted on my piece of paper.
There is no break in the action. American football has a lot of stopping and starting, which can get a bit dull. That is not the case with rugby; with the non-stop action these guys don’t get a break. An injured player dropped to the ground in pain the medic ran out onto the field- while the ball was still in play. He dodged players and treated the injured player. It was like war but with no death and the soldiers dressed in pink... a lot of pink. I furiously scribbled down my clever observation.
There was a penalty called. A remote controlled car came out to the field with the ball stand. The kicker took the stand and prepared the ball. He did not seem at all surprised that it was a remote controlled car that brought it out to him and that the guy operating it is a grown man. My journalist friend mentioned that in New Zealand they trained a sheepdog to bring the stand out but the noise of the crowed freaked the dog out and he would run away. “Now they use a remote controlled car.” He explained this as he jotted a few more notes in his notebook. I too made some notes. “63,000 people in the stadium, 10 train cars on the metro how long will it take to get out of here? It’s sooooo cold. Dogs are cool. I miss my kitty.”
A few other observations.
-When the ball is kicked into the stands the fans actually throw it back instead of taking it home and enclosing it in Plexiglas and telling me the story of how they got it every god damned time I go to their house.
-They play disco during half time and people in the stands actually dance to it. I danced because that's how I express myself.
-Chicken kabobs are tasty.
-Don’t say “oopsy daisy” when the ball is fumbled, that sounds queer in any language.
-You can bring your children to watch the game- the fans are very respectful. There were no drunk, obnoxious, shirtless, fat men screaming obscenities at the refs – except me, of course, I was representin’.