Julia SMU-in-Paris

Julia is a junior from Plano majoring in history, with a French minor, and is a member of the University Honors Program. She is studying abroad with SMU-in-Paris in fall 2007.

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What exactly IS “rugby”?

In case you didn’t know, the World Cup of Rugby has been going on in France since my arrival to Paris in September. All of the games take place at the ultra modern “Stade de France” on the outskirts of Paris. Throughout the city, however, there are several giant screens set up in parks for people to watch the games.

To make it clear that the Rugby Cup is going on in Paris, the Eiffel Tower is decked out in a green light (the official color of the Rugby Cup), and there is a giant inflatable rugby ball hanging from the middle of the tower.

Shades of Dallas Cowboys
Because I’m not a sports enthusiast, I literally have no idea how rugby is played. From watching the sports segment on the news every night before the weather, I can tell you that rugby involves very large men pushing and hitting each other in order to get a larger version of a white football. To me, it looks a lot like football with more violence, but less padding. I was surprised to see that the United States actually has a national rugby team (though we lost in the qualifying rounds of the tournament).

Despite my personal dislike of the sport, it has taken over Paris like mad. Last weekend, Paris defeated New Zealand, one of the best teams in the league, and the city went wild with screams of “Allez les Blues” (Go Blue!). It was interesting to see men running down the street wearing the French flag on their backs and screaming patriotically. I guess in the world of sports, everyone is the same, whether you’re rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, or for the French National Rugby team, guys will always dress up, go crazy and scream loud for their favorite teams.

English invasion
Unfortunately, last night England defeated France in the semifinals of the tournament. Several of my friends were at the Champs de Mars watching the game and told me it was virtual mayhem when the game was over, with the British cheering and the French upset over their defeat. I heard many English people last night walking down my street singing the English national anthem and assumed they must have won. I’m ready for rugby to be over and for the city of Paris to be free from the hoards of British, Scottish and others who have seemingly taken over the city with “rugby fever.”

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