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Ben Dirs

From biscuits to foie gras (23)

Bordeaux - When you’re down and troubled, and you need some love and care, go out and have a few scoops with the Irish in Bordeaux. You’re likely to get absolutely rubbered and forget about all the bad things that have happened.

Not me of course. I was nursing a Guinness in The Connemara thinking up possibly the worst opening paragraph in the history of the written word.

From digestives in the back of The Bloggernaut to foie gras in a bistro in Bordeaux (it had tablecloths and everything!) in the space of 24 hours – this trip has had more gut-wrenching lows and euphoric highs than an entire series of The X Factor.

Ben Dirs and friend

Thursday began with a hair-raising drive to the petrol station in Agen, fuel needle deep in the red while Tom and I belted out that old Benediction classic Therefore We, Before Him Bending to keep the spirits up.

We made it in the nick of time, and when we nabbed the last spot on what appears to be the only campsite in Bordeaux, we knew our luck had changed. For a while at least.

Wednesday’s experience on the ringroads of Toulouse changed me momentarily, and I didn’t like what I saw. From fully paid-up Francophile to V-sign flicking (“REMEMBER AGINCOURT!”) lunatic in the blink of an eye. Horrific.

In contrast, La Belle Au Bois Dormant looks like a cheeky city where we could have some fun. One thing’s certain, the little beauty won’t be getting much kip while the Irish are in town for Saturday’s game against Georgia.

Our spot in Gradignan, on the outskirts of Bordeaux, hasn’t gone green quite yet, but the advance party in the van next door assure me the hordes are on their way.

The Welsh set the bar pretty high last week in Nantes, but, having seen the Irish in action countless times over the years, I’m fairly confident they will achieve new standards over the coming days.

Tonight, Tom and I will watch the England-South Africa clash in The Connemara, I fear with gritted teeth.

Taking one injury-prone specialist fly-half to a World Cup is a bit like rocking up to a nightclub with one ropey chat-up line in your locker. If that fails, you’re pretty much having to make it up as you go along.

On Sunday we head for Montpellier for Tonga-Samoa, which promises to be the mother of all smash-ups. Any tips as to where to stay or where to get a few gargles down our neck after the match would, as ever, be greatly appreciated.

Irish fan and Tom Fordyce

My head feels like it’s got a group of lads from Kildare living in it, but the spirits are high. And remember, when the van is a rockin’, don’t come a knockin’. Tom will probably be doing some press-ups.

Ben Dirs is a BBC Sport journalist travelling around France in a camper van with Tom Fordyce. Click here to search for all of Tom and Ben's blog videos.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:38 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Frankie wrote:

The Connemara?! Fools...I watched the England France match there. Very rude clientele, who all vacated the pub within moments of the final whistle.

Much better the Houses of Parliament, on Rue de Margaux (?) which at least pretends to be english if you must remain central. Or better still if you hop on a bus to the Bordeaux IV University Campus in Pessac (no 34 I believe, but there are many others), I highly recommend the Jolly Froggy opposite the university bus stop. Run by a French/Italian called Jimmy who has played in Britain, and its very hospitable: all my best memories of Bordeaux originate there!

  • 2.
  • At 02:53 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Scrum Half wrote:

Let's face it. This whole world cup is a set up for NZ to win it. Bye to the final, group they wanted, KO times they want, refs they want....why are the other teams even bothering?

  • 3.
  • At 03:01 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Fiona wrote:

Keep the expressions coming lads.

"My head feels like a group of lads from Kildare". Does your mouth feel like the bottom of a budgies birdcage?

"Taking one injury-prone specialist fly-half to a World Cup is a bit like rocking up to a nightclub with one ropey chat-up line in your locker". I cannot beat or match that!!!

Any ideas anyone?? How about going fly fishing in a boat on a resovoir with one fly on a hurricane sort of day???

  • 4.
  • At 03:17 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Graeme Davison wrote:

scrum half - I'm sure you've mentioned this on other blogs or 606 posts. change the record!

Dirsy and Tom - great blogs lads. missing you on the cricket but your blogs make for a great read. keep it up.

ps - if england fail to escape the group do you boys come home early or is this where the party really kicks off?

  • 5.
  • At 03:29 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Dave Boon wrote:

I was in Marseille for the NZ vs Italy game and the whole of the Viuex Port was a see of black. The locals gave up trying to move everyone of the road and eventually had two lanes closed.

The adopted pub if you get down that far was O'Malleys. Watched France lose to the Argies and if the French were looking for a shoulder to cry on, hundreds of blacks shirts cheering wasn't what they were looking for!

Wish I could have kept following them along, but should see them all again in Cardiff!

Hello,
I'm a Scottish musician and have been living in Bordeaux for the last 24 years. Why not check out the Molly Malone's pub on the Quays here in Bordeaux. I'm playing there tonight with my band, Scotch Mist, after the England v SA match.

Best wishes
Martin Neish

http://www.soundclick.com/scotchmist

0556 813 897

You never know we might meet up in St Etienne. We're playing a gig in St Galmier on the Sunday after the Scotland v Italy match.

  • 7.
  • At 04:22 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Geneva Green wrote:

Sadly I'm stuck in Geneva, and haven't been able to buy / beg/ steal a ticket for ANY of the matches... happily the Mr Pickwick Pub (Switzerland's oldest English) here in Geneva is showing every game on hundreds of screens (giant and teeny), and the Guinness isn't bad at all... a bit like 2003, when their Guinness was still pretty good!

If you chaps tire of the French, come along this way - we're still kind of French - with better food - but the Swiss actually seem more interested in rugby than our garlic quaffing neighbours.

Anyway, enough of that. England, sadly, will be lucky to get into double figures tonight. But the boys in green will surely meet the boys in black at Stade on the 20th...

  • 8.
  • At 04:25 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • FunScotinFrance wrote:

Hi I was in Bordeaux for the game last Sunday, there was a Guinness wagon , great pint and cheap by French standards.. not sure where it is apart from near a pizza place and across the road from another an irish bar ...but what do I know I can get lost in a bath room
Watching the game tonight in toulouse at the rugby villiage, a scotsman, irish and kiwi wonder who we will support...

  • 9.
  • At 04:28 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Owen wrote:

Get yourselves over to the Houses of Parliament boys, had a great time in there on Saturday, even if I was the only Welsh voice in a sea of green shouting for Canada!
Was lucky enough to get a ticket for face value though, and took great delight in cheering for Namibie with all the Frenchies!

  • 10.
  • At 04:48 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Graham Mitchell wrote:

Look, I know you are hardcore rugger fans, but how on earth can you travel to BORDEAUX and then demand to know where you can get a cheap pint of Guiness!!
*MUST.... FIND.... THEME... PUB*

  • 11.
  • At 04:56 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • pg wrote:

Why on earth was Wilkinson picked?The chances of him playing were so low that it was not worth the risk.
We now have a shorteage of cover.

  • 12.
  • At 05:04 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Geneva Green, i know someone selling two tickets to England-Tonga if you are interested? England will probably be a laughing stock by then anyway... Off out to see Andy Farrell's kicking debut..in the World Cup...in the biggest game for England! nice!

Come on you Irish, lets up our game after last week's diabolical performance. Connemara closes at 2 by the way lads, make plans for later movements...

  • 13.
  • At 05:49 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Ciano wrote:

there's a car park on the river in the city centre beside the big open square where the circus is that was accepting vans last weekend, if ye want to be closer to the Connemara

  • 14.
  • At 05:50 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Ciano wrote:

there's a car park on the river in the city centre beside the big open square where the circus is that was accepting vans last weekend, if ye want to be closer to the Connemara

  • 15.
  • At 06:11 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Koko Meyer wrote:

Geneva Green - Let's not get into too much of a debate here but Switzerland with better food and more interested in rugby than its Gallic cousin?? Did you ever cross 'the border'?? Surely you are having a laugh ...

I really don't think we'll see the boys in green in the final, however I do fancy England's chances tonight. England is a wounded beats and that can be very dangerous for the Saffies ... yes I'm a frenchman and I think for the first time in my life will be cheering for England tonight! The southern hemisphere teams just have to come down their high horses ...

  • 16.
  • At 10:27 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • E Swain wrote:

England Humiliated
Record Points Deficit in World Cup

Who do you blame

The Players- I think imagination and flair is coached out of England Players

The Coach- Never stood a chance in the timescale and with the material available

The Fans- Well they have had to pay record ticket prices to watch the most boring side in the World play for the past 3 Years i.e. high prices for a poor product

The RFU Management- Well Yes Woodward wasted a year with the old brigade the next coach was never up to the job and the present one never stood a chance.

The RFU management should be on short term contracts, 4 years to coincide with the World Cup. They should come in do the best job that they can and then leave and make way for the next fresh team.
RFU management who mkae a carreer of the RFU make decisions and appointments to suit their own ends not those in the best interest of the game or English Rugby. Everyone knows this but the fans who pay for all of incompetance and vested interest are powerless to do anything about it.

  • 17.
  • At 10:32 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • E Swain wrote:

England Humiliated
Record Points Deficit in World Cup

Who do you blame

The Players- I think imagination and flair is coached out of England Players

The Coach- Never stood a chance in the timescale and with the material available

The Fans- Well they have had to pay record ticket prices to watch the most boring side in the World play for the past 3 Years i.e. high prices for a poor product

The RFU Management- Well Yes Woodward wasted a year with the old brigade the next coach was never up to the job and the present one never stood a chance.

The RFU management should be on short term contracts, 4 years to coincide with the World Cup. They should come in do the best job that they can and then leave and make way for the next fresh team.
RFU management who mkae a carreer of the RFU make decisions and appointments to suit their own ends not those in the best interest of the game or English Rugby. Everyone knows this but the fans who pay for all of incompetance and vested interest are powerless to do anything about it.

  • 18.
  • At 11:07 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • E Swain wrote:

England Humiliated
Record Points Deficit in World Cup

Who do you blame

The Players- I think imagination and flair is coached out of England Players

The Coach- Never stood a chance in the timescale and with the material available

The Fans- Well they have had to pay record ticket prices to watch the most boring side in the World play for the past 3 Years i.e. high prices for a poor product

The RFU Management- Well Yes Woodward wasted a year with the old brigade the next coach was never up to the job and the present one never stood a chance.

The RFU management should be on short term contracts, 4 years to coincide with the World Cup. They should come in do the best job that they can and then leave and make way for the next fresh team.
RFU management who mkae a carreer of the RFU make decisions and appointments to suit their own ends not those in the best interest of the game or English Rugby. Everyone knows this but the fans who pay for all of incompetance and vested interest are powerless to do anything about it.

  • 19.
  • At 12:32 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

Never mind, boys, at least you both appear to have pulled.

  • 20.
  • At 12:46 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

Never mind, boys, at least you both appear to have pulled.

  • 21.
  • At 10:34 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Fiona wrote:

Neil.

Very funny. Have a great time fellas with them??

I'd be intrigued to hear if anyone can think of a more ramshackle run-up to a crunch game at any level, let alone from the defending World Champions at the RWC. Let's run through the time-line:

- way back when, Ashton picks Jonny and Olly, and leaves Shane and Toby at home. Englan quietly bemused, but wheels out 'Ashton-as-maverick-rugby-genius/guru' line. England appeased, remainder of world look on with wry amusement.
- Jonny breaks. Neither England nor World remotely surprised.
- Olly plays well. England spend perhaps a little too much time focussing on that than they do on the fact that everyone else was rubbish. World still waiting for Ashton to reveal the full details of the hustle that must surely be going on.
- Olly breaks. World looks at Ashton and suppresses a smile. England start watching the football.
- Ashton tells us Farrell is the man.
- Andrew is wheeled out to inform us that yes, Farrell is the man.
- Mike Catt stands up to tell us that actually no, he and Andy have talked about it in training and actually HE is the man.;
- Ashton stands up, and takes firm control of the situation by telling England and the world that 'as AN EDUCATED GUESS Catt will spend most of his time at ten
- World wonders what role of international coach actually involves, as we've clearly misunderstood something. Sorry about that.
- Andrew presumably kicks Ashton's arse...
- As do the Springboks to England
- The RFU can't afford another payout, so wheel out the old 'continuity' line.
- Andy Robinson, Shane Gerraghty and Toby Flood go out on the lash and buy replica Wales shirts.

Still, at least Wales were good. For about half an hour - once again, just enough to give me hope so that it can be crushed next time round. I love being Welsh.

Cheers, lads - loving the blog. Keep on keepin' on.

  • 23.
  • At 11:34 AM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • Peter O Farrell wrote:

Afternoon gents, always a fascinating read, having spent the last 5 days travelling between city to city/living on a train, knowing about 10 words of French and watching the Rugby, I appriciate what your 'going through' - more like lucky so and so's.

What do you guys do during the sad days between matches? Do you plan to attend the creme de la creme that is Italy v Portugal this Wednesday.

Oh and some tickets for Friday if you have them, thatd be nice.

I'll buy you at least 6 beers each.

Oh and a lift to England Samoa aswell.

Surely its not too much to ask?

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