My weekend in Paris didn’t start well – I left my mobile phone on the Eurostar at the Gard du Nord and never recovered it. To say that I felt like I’d lost a limb would be an understatement, but after 24 hours without it I realised what a slave I had become to instant communication.
No Twitter, no Facebook, no way of getting scores from games in Eastern Counties or to to find out how the England U20s and Women had got on. But I got all I needed to know eventually and the fact it was a day or two later didn’t really make any significant difference.
So once I had rationalised that the loss of a phone for a few days was not going to be the end of my world I concentrated on the main business of the weekend, France v England in the Six Nations.
Like the Italians, the French like to take their time over lunch so we were picked up at 11:30am from our hotel for the journey to the Stade de France. We arrived at the tented village at 12 noon and were taken into a huge dining area that must have seated close to a thousand people. On display was the best of French food, with tables of various salamis and sausages, cheeses, oysters and even foie-gras, all available for us to taste and enjoy.
We were entertained by a couple of magicians, one of them on stilts, and I wondered if the RFU should think about making their pre-match lunch a little less formal. Then I thought about all the activities that go on in the car parks at Twickenham and realised that although it is different, it works just as well.
We walked across the river to the stadium which I think is the most striking of those I have been to. It is easy to get into and out of and I like its design – the only fault is its dingy location in an industrial area of St Denis. As the national anthems were played the atmosphere was wonderful and all during the game a couple of oompah bands at each end of the ground played.
The promise that England showed against Wales was delivered against France and it was great to see the players take a tour of the pitch to applaud the supporters after the game. This was something Stuart Lancaster said he was trying to encourage to get the the national side to reconnect with the game at large.
For the first time in my experience the French and English Women’s teams joined the men at the post-match dinner having played earlier that afternoon, England winning 15-3. As they walked in everyone stood up and applauded which was a nice touch, then the men came in to huge cheers from the English contingent. Speeches were duly done then came the biggest scrum of the day as 500 people or so descended on the buffet!
That aside, it was a memorable day and everyone is now looking forward to the game against Ireland on Saturday.