Mathieu Bastareaud: pretty in pink.
Last night I went to watch a rugby match. Dear reader, such is the misery I am prepared to endure on your behalf. For those of you who didn't go to public schools and don't come from Wales, rugby is a variant of football, designed specifically for the obese. It involves a ball and some kicking, but the ball isn't spherical and is mostly carried. In rugby, there's no such thing as 'hand ball'. Rugby players do tackle but, again, they use their hands - or anything other than their feet.
I'm an open-minded fellow and was keen to sample the atmosphere of the Stade Charléty, permanent home to Paris Football Club* and occasional stomping ground for Stade Français. Since tickets to last night's match versus Leeds Carnegie were available for 5 Euros, I decided to partake.
In fact, the experience wasn't wholly nauseating. I saw plenty of tries and a satisfying amount of violence, all in what marketing people like to describe as a "carnival atmosphere". Stade Français is a club renowned for its efforts to make rugby "sexy" (those marketing people again), which explains the appalling selection of pop music and a kit so garish, it makes 90s goalkeeper jerseys seem tastefully restrained. After the final whistle, as the pink-clad macho men left the field to the strains of Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive', I was reminded that Stade Français is responsible for the Dieux du Stade calendar, which is a favourite among Paris's gay community.
So there you have it. Rugby: baffling, brutal and camp as Christmas.
*More to follow on Paris Football Club.