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Blame game begins after Six Nations Paris debacle

Date

Pirate Irwin

France's rugby union federation president Pierre Camou apologised to French supporters but made no mention of Ireland's fans.

France's rugby union federation president Pierre Camou apologised to French supporters but made no mention of Ireland's fans. Photo: AFP

PARIS: The last minute abandonment of the Six Nations clash between France and Ireland had everyone searching for a scapegoat but whoever is selected for that role will not matter to the biggest losers - the supporters.

Not much could be gleaned from the 'press conference' held after the farcical abandonment where the fans were the last people to know whereas the television viewers had been informed 10 minutes before kick-off.

A frazzled looking Six Nations official Christine Connolly and French Rugby Federation president Pierre Camou appeared before the media but refused to take any questions while referee Dave Pearson having been announced that he would be present was then absent.

While Connolly simply stated the bland facts that Pearson had cleared the pitch as playable 90 minutes before kick-off and then the reverse minutes before it, a visibly angry and emotional Camou took the line the best defence was offence.

"We were not the deciders," said Camou, who then apologised solely to those he felt responsible for the French supporters who had travelled long distances but not a mention of the Irish supporters.

The International Rugby Board backed Pearson. In a statenent the IRB said: "Player welfare and safety is the primary concern for the IRB and its match officials."

To many the scenario had been clear all week that with the temperatures as they were it was asking for trouble to have the match scheduled at such a late time especially on a pitch which has no undersoil heating.

While television was held to blame for this scheduling, according to L'Equipe on Sunday French television did suggest to the organisers they could move it forward to 1500GMT but were rebuffed.

Camou's evasiveness cut little ice with former Ireland fly-half Tony Ward.

"When the captain's run couldn't happen yesterday and the kickers couldn't get onto the pitch to practice, there is a problem. This is a big wake-up call for the Six Nations," he said.

For another former Irish international turned pundit Neil Francis the blame lay fairly and squarely with the French.

"As usual the French, in their minimalist and laissez-faire way, did as little as possible to make certain that the match took place," he said in his Sunday Independent column.

The sorry sight of two groundsmen desperately wielding a heating implement in a corner of the pitch while the military band stood to attention even after television viewers had been informed of the abandonment brought out some dark humour from an Irish fan.

"It brought back memories of The Titanic and the band still playing while the ship went down," he commented.

However, such humour was a rarity to be found amongst the thousands of Irish supporters who had saved up at a time of severe financial hardship to make the trip over to Paris.

Kevin Loughney, owner of the Irish pub Kitty O'Shea's in Paris, described the decision to call the match off as "pretty devastating for the fans who had travelled".

One of the fans Dublin-based salesman Mark Kelly summed up to AFP the frustration of the fans.

"You wouldn't get this in schoolboy rugby!" Kelly told AFP. "Me and my wife have been planning this for a year, St Valentine's weekend and all that.

"These French friends came over last year to Dublin and we said we'd come this year.

"With hotel and flights and organising nannies for the two kids it has cost 1,000 euros.

"The first we knew was 10 minutes after it was meant to kick off. The referee didn't have the courtesy to come and announce it himself. I can't come back as I can't take another day off."

AFP

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Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
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CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
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BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
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BUL vs RED 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
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HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
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SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
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HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
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RED vs REB 20:40SS
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Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
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SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
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STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
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BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
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BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
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Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
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