We are the champions
« Enfin » « At last ! », the French press acclaimed with a cry of joy and a big relief, the hard won victory of the French rugbymen over their British counterparts the Stade de France on Saturday January 31st : 26 to 24. One could read : « the French team, overwhelmed physically but heroic in defence, stole the victory from the English ». That is for the visible part of the iceberg.
« heroic » sounds fair play, but true feeling are emerging in sports daily « l’Equipe »: « a more than perfect crime ». The South-West daily from Toulouse « La Dépêche du midi » writes « Fickou (the French Rugby playerwho scored the point) slaughters the English » (« Fickou abat les Anglais »). These terms harldy evoke sports but murder, don’t they ?
The perfect murder
It was murder, let’s face it, that both team fantasized about committing on each other.
We all know that sports, like driving, is a booster for testosterone and can therefore induce primitive behaviours, even within the most normal people. As French social scientist Paul Yonnet stated in « Jeux, Modes et Masses »  now that we all are at peace, sports has proved an excellent alternative for war.
Back to the future
Under the varnish of a pacific rivalry, the relationship between the French and the British, remains the hatred engendered by a battle that took place a few good 900 years.
From Hastings 1066, when William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy invaded the « isle of Bretagne », ie England, the French and the English were at war until 1904 and the famous « entente cordiale ». Both countries united at last to counter the African expansionnism of Kaiser William II of Germany and because France had the secret hope of regaining its lost territory of Alsace and Lorraine.
Wogs begin at Calais
If you ask a French man, who is his natural ennemy , he will naturally point at Germany. But remember the war with our German cousins lasted for only 70 years – not an easy ride though - whereas the French and the British brethern fought for almost a millenium.
The Hasting battles is notorious for having been the trigger that started it all. But lets give credit where credit is due.
The cause the offence is to be found on the English side of the Channel. The ambitious Duke of Normandy who is the cousin of the English king has been promised his throne. But when Edward the Confessor dies on January 5th 1066, William is very unfairly ousted by the ruling aristocracy on the pretence that his blood is not pure enough. Not only, the Duke of Normandy is the illegitmate son of Robert le magnifique and a poor washer woman -a bastard as they called him, but furthermore, he is not a Saxon. Wogs start at Calais as one says.
When William realises Harold of Wessex has taken his crown, he is so infuriated by this ripoff that he decides to get back what he thinks is his. We all know, revenge is a dish best served cold. He carefully prepares his trip and by the end of Spetember, he lands on the South coast of England. On October, the 14th, he wins the battle of Hasting, killing Harold. William the Conqueror is then going to impose – quite violently, his tax and legal system.
Like most French men he will prove to be an authoritarian male chauvinist ( I will tell you more when I write about women) but he is going to reorganise the State and begin to build Greater England.
You may feel I digressed but had not William the Conqueror imported the Frenh game of « soule » , the ancester of football, the English might never have invented rugby…
 (Games, Modes and Masses), Gallimard 1985