Farce in France

Stade de France

Stade de France. (c) Don Pham Doan.

With just ten minutes until kick-off, word started to filter through that the match was off. After hearing that referee Dave Pearson had given the go-ahead around two hours before the scheduled start, the excitement had gone into overdrive for what was sure to be one of the highlights of this Six Nations. With the Stade de France almost full, the official announcement came that the game was postponed because of the weather conditions.

The boos that greeted the news were only a mild expression of what the fans who had spent hard-earned cash to travel to France must have felt. They would not have been blamed for an angrier expression of their feelings. How did it come to a decision ten minutes before kick-off? Surely in this day and age, the officials in charge could have foreseen this happening and made an earlier call? With the freezing temperatures that have hit Paris all week and were forecast for tonight, it’s fair to say the weather was no surprise.

It’s hard not to feel for the loyal Irish supporters who made the trip, having spent their money and taken days off work. However, it is what it is and the game is off. Anger at the decision won’t achieve anything, but the organisers involved have to learn from this. It should never again get to the point where a game is called off with just minutes to go until kick-off. Given this particualr situation though, it was obviously the right call by Pearson. Players should never be forced to play in dangerous circumstances.

Panorama Stade De France

Fans at the Stade de France were left gutted by the late call. (c) Fabien Lavocat

This obviously effects the playing side of things. The game will most likely be rescheduled for one of the tournament’s break weekends, either February 18/19th or March 3/4th. If the game were to be put back to that weekend in March, it would mean four matches in-a-row for Ireland. That would be a big ask in such a high-intensity tournament. On the flip side, it would mean Ireland’s next match being at home to Italy, a good chance for a morale boosting win before taking on the French.

Playing the game next weekend seems unlikely given the logistics involved planning a game with a crowd of 80,000 people. As well as that, Stade de France is scheduled to be used for Stade Francais vs. Toulon Top 14 match on Saturday. It may be that Ireland are forced into four matches on consecutive weekends. From a supporters point of view, that would make things quite interesting, and if Ireland kicked the run off with a win in Italy, momentum could carry them back to France and beyond.

What was your take on what happened in Paris? Comment below with your view of things. When would you like to see the match rescheduled for? Would four weekends in-a-row be too much of an ask?

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Photos courtesy:  Fabien Lavocat, Don Pham Doan.

12 responses to “Farce in France

  1. It was a touch and go decision even at 10 mins before kick off so it could not be called accuratley 24 hrs earlier.

    The failure was not to have more defrosting available and not to have defrosted the touchline.

    A very unusual event in exceptional weather conditions.

    • You’re right, truly exceptional weather conditions. Just frustrating after being so pumped up for the game. I can only imagine how the players and fans in the stadium feel now!

      According to Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh of the Sunday Mirror, Stade de France is built on a former gas site, with volcanic rocks just underneath the ground, hence no undersoil heating.

      Usually, there’s probably very little need for heating in Paris anyway! Freak weather conditions and hopefully we won’t see anything like this again!

  2. You are incredibly funny :” If the game were to be put back to that weekend in March, it would mean four matches in-a-row for Ireland. That would be a big ask in such a high-intensity tournament. ”
    You seem to forget it will be exactly the same for France …
    And tonight the president of the FFR has expressed his anger against the referee who cancelled the game at the last minute . This afternoon Clermont vs Racing Metro has been played by the same temperature, and in Rome the pitch was covered with snow in some places for Italy vs England .

    • I didn’t mean to suggest that four matches in-a-row would be in any way less difficult for France. I just usually focus on things from an Irish point of view on this blog! It would be a tough task for France too. Both sides will be affected by it, probably France more so as they would have been confident of making it two wins from two tonight!

      So do you think there was a case for the match actually going ahead? It seems that both coaches were involved in the decision. Declan Kidney has backed Pearson’s call, saying the pitch was “dangerous” in one corner. Were there any injuries in the Clermont vs Racing Metro game?

  3. No there were no injuries in Clermont, and I don’t think they have an undersoil heating there either . It’s colder in Clermont because of the mountains, so the afternoon there is like the evening in Paris .
    French TV asked for the game to be played this afternoon instead, and the bloody 6Nations commitee refused, arguing that some people had probably planned to get in Paris just before the game . I think it’s worse for people who paid a fortune for this weekend .
    Yes both coaches were afraid for their players, but when you think of the terrible hassle it will be to find another date, the handicap it will create to clubs deprived one more time of their best players, the handicap it will make for Ireland and France compared to other nations, the fact it might spoil THE Top14 shock Clermont/Toulouse on the first weekend of March, I would have prefered to see the match tonight .
    Tomorrow afternoon would have been a better solution, but I don’t know why this solution has been rejected . Security reasons I presume, cops and all that sort of things .

  4. Some really interesting points Phildange. If the match went ahead in Clermont in similar temperatures, then surely this one could have been played too.

    I saw that the French TV broadcasters had applied for the game to be brought forward to 15.00 today. That would have made sense, seems ridiculous that the Six Nations committee rejected the proposal! Obviously has something to do with money…

    Apparently, the Six Nations representatives at Stade de France have been refusing to answer any questions. FFR President seems to be really angry about the decision, as you said. He agreed with your point about Rome, saying, “Today a 6N game in Italy was played in the snow and the referee was French”. He backed that up by saying, “I’m not sure the argument of safety is suddenly a good one at 8pm”.

    I can see how the first weekend in March would be a bad time to have the game for the Top14.

    Is it fair to say that the definite feeling in France is that the game should have gone ahead? I agree that tomorrow afternoon would have been an ideal solution, with all the fans staying in Paris tonight anyway. Again, it would seem that the Six Nations don’t want any matches played at the same time, ridiculous!

  5. I’ve no idea about the general feeling in France yet . I live in the end of a track in a forest and I don’t want to go out in Siberia right now .
    Tomorrow would be perfect, for clubs, for Ireland and France compared to others, for travelling fans, yes it would be fine . But you’re right, they refused that for the same reason they refused today’s afternoon : never two games in the same time . TV money .
    I saw you subscribed to my blog . Very kind of you, but I’m afraid it’s empty .
    I opened it when I subscribed to wordpress as it was kind of automatic but I never used it . Sorry, although I may write in it some day .
    Before going to bed, I’d like to say I keep a tremendous memory from my trip to Erin in 1984 . Coming there from Germany, Denmark and England, wow ! what a massive change ! Very unique world it was . People driving in the middle of the road ( just what I like), unwashed kids playing in the streets, it was southern Italy under a Celtic sky . I loved the Irish, in their villages, in their pubs, in their buses, in their feasts ( the Rose of Tralee)…
    Very special people, lost in the Atlantic very far from Europe by that time, before globalization I mean . Cheers ( sorry I don’t know Gaelic) .

  6. I will stay subscribed to your blog, hopefully you will do some writing in the future!
    Some lovely memories of Ireland! I’m afraid things have changed a lot since your last visit, I don’t recognise the country you remember… Although we’re still welcoming and enjoy our pubs! Thanks for all your interesting points tonight.

  7. I am still recovering from the shock of it all ! I was not happy with the general approach taken by FFR and TV and the IRB in the way they handled the issue. It was on the cards for days that the weather would hamper playing conditions. The pitch was covered after the game v Italy on the 4th ! What we were doing up there in Le Stade de Farce at 21.00 KO is beyond me . The referee took the correct decision for sure . He was left with no alterntive. The onus is surely on the hosts to provide adequate facilities , fit for purpose , to ensure an event of this stature takes place as advertised. The lack of undersoil heating came as a surprise to many I feel. The hosts should now forfeit the home advantage and the game should be played in Dublin. That would certainly ensure that this type of disregard for ordinary fans would not be repeated in a hurry. It took me two and a half hours to go to the ground , stay forty minutes and then turn around and return to Porte Maillot. Other than that we had a great weekend and I am willing to forgive !

    • Sorry to hear about your troubles Liam. Glad you were still able to enjoy the weekend! I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been to be in the actual stadium. Forfeiting home advantage would definitely teach the hosts a harsh lesson in managing big events like this. Hopefully we will never see the likes again. Do you think you’ll be able to get back over for any rescheduled date? Did you keep your ticket? Lots of worrying that fans will have thrown their ticket away after entering the ground. Just a bloody joke the whole thing!

  8. No , I can’t see a way of returning for any re scheduled game. It is just too expensive. This game is my international cap each year but I will just have to suffer the loss for 2012. I was very verbally animated at 21.00 in the ground but was cooling off by the time I got to the Metro. I told the French around me that I was glad that it did not happen in Dublin as we would never hear the end of it . I even sang a little Monty Python ditty “Always look on the bright side of Life……” and that amused a few ! ( I can’t sing but as we now know they can’t host ). As we Irish can often interject ” Shur nobody died “.

    • Haha sounds like you lifted a few spirits on the Metro back into Paris. Well done for taking it all the right way. As you said, it’s not the end of the world. A real pity you’ll miss out on your international cap this year though! Already looking forward to the Italy match. And we have Munster are back on next weekend too so plenty to look forward to!

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