Sunday, October 07, 2007

Allez les bleus

Last night being stuck at home with a baby on a Saturday was a pleasure. Not only was le Petit in a relatively good mood for a near three-month-old, but we didn't mind being glued to the couch for the evening. Anywhere else and we would have missed France's Les Bleus beat New Zealand's All Blacks in what was a nail-biter of a match in the Rugby World Cup quarter finals.

I'll leave a detailed description of the match to those actually qualified to write one, as I don't even truly understand the rules. That's one of the things I like best about rugby: you don't have to know anything about it to appreciate watching it, any more than you have to know the chemistry and technical details of TNT to be in awe watching a building demolished. All you really need to know about scoring can be more or less extrapolated from American football, anyway. I just sit back and enjoy the spectacle of thirty giants crashing into each other and ripping themselves apart for two forty minute stretches. It seems so chaotic, so anything goes, that I regret not trying to play in college (my alma mater has a women's team) since I think it would have been the perfect antidote to my type A personality. Of course, I don't really have the build for it, nor the speed, nor the coordination, so I was probably better off sticking with distance running.

This year the French team has a little bit of Asterix about them, a pocket of valiant underdogs resisting the invaders. It helps that one of their most recognizable players, Sébastien Chabal, looks like a Gaul with his warrior build, thick beard and ragged pony tail. Last night, they certainly drank the magic potion before hitting the field or at least tanked up at half time, since they beat the unbeatable All Blacks. Flashbacks of France/Brazil in the Soccer World Cup 2006 anyone?

Le Petit enjoys watching rugby, or is at least captivated by the fast-moving, brightly-colored shapes that dance across the television screen. I, his dear mother, live in fear that he'll grow up to actually play the game and get his cute little ears torn from the sides of his cute little head. If he inherits his father's build, which his 8 lbs, 7 oz birth weight would seem to predict, he could make a decent player. If he doesn't inherit my (severe lack of) coordination or his father's shortsightedness, that is. His attention span will have to expand somewhat, as well: by a few minutes after half time he had fallen asleep in my arms nursing. He woke up with a start when my husband bounded from the couch cheering after the French scored a try.

As usual, the French public was morose and resigned before the match, then jolted out of their habitual pessimism by the victory. Dare we believe? The French team will play England in Paris' Stade de France next weekend, and although it won't be easy, I think we can do it. Best of all, if we make it to the finals -- yes, a giant if -- the good news is that headbutting the opposing team is not only authorized, but an integral part of the game.

Le Petit was apparently as worn out by the game as the players, since he fell asleep quite quickly last night despite the honking cars and screaming fans in the street below our apartment. After I put him down he stirred and started to whimper, and I was ready to admit defeat and take him back into my arms. But I waited just a minute longer and he snuggled into a (what I can't imagine was actually) comfortable position pressed up against the side of his crib, closed his eyes, and was out as if he'd just be KO'ed on the field. And he stayed that way until 7:30 this morning.

Il faut y croire, my friends, you just gotta believe.

1 comment:

Mom in France said...

I LOVE watching rugby which is strange since I never watched any other team sport besides the Red Sox in the US. We were a group of 10 + 3 sleeping babies. No one expected that kind of match and we moms spend the last few minutes either yelling ourselves or trying to remind others not to wake the little ones. My poor husband was pacing the floor by the end of the match and as an expression of joy ran out of the house and jumped fully clothed into our pool when the whistle blew. All babies slept tight thoughout the whole thing.