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Ben Dirs

Ugly win a thing of beauty (372)

Paris - Big sporting occasions can mess with people's minds. On Saturday night, as my brains were being blown out by the Marseillaise, I found myself making the sign of the cross and I very nearly cried.

When I tell you that I’m not sure I believe in God and that I blub about once every 10 years, usually when watching The Champ, you get some idea of the mind-bending atmosphere that was swirling round the Stade de France as England beat the World Cup hosts.

The scenes after the final whistle will live long in the memory: French fans disappearing from the ground as quickly as bath water being sucked down a plughole; England fans roaring along to Oasis’ Wonderwall; the tears of Sebastien Chabal.

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Mark Orlovac

South Africa v Argentina player ratings (150)

Paris - It worked so well on Saturday we're continuing the Orlo/Dirsy blog partnership for the SA v Argentina ratings, but this time with added Fordyce!

Here are our player ratings for the Boks' semi-final win over the Pumas. I have rated South Africa and Ben and Tom are now so inseparable they have jointly rated Argentina.

Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts!

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Mark Orlovac

England in the final mood (86)

Paris - The headlines said it all.

“Rageant” (infuriating) and “Une Frustration Infinie” (you can guess what that one means) screamed the press as France awoke after another draining evening with the realisation that for them, their World Cup dream is over.

The French inquest into the events that occurred at the Stade de France was already underway in earnest, with many supporters questioning why Lionel Beauxis was taken off so early in the second half.

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Alastair Eykyn

Desolation and delight at the Stade de France (109)

Last night was an education. An illustration of the power of the united collective. A masterclass in ice-cool concentration from England’s sharp-shooter Jonny Wilkinson. And the perfect example of the twin imposters at work.

Immediately after the match, I was in the bowels of the Stade de France, in the flash interview area next to the tunnel, waiting to speak to the men of the moment.

Minutes after Wilkinson’s boot had put an end to the French dream, the players from each side streamed past the door that I was leaning on. The players’ emotions in these moments are always extreme, but having spent many an hour loitering in tunnels and outside changing rooms post-match, microphone in hand, I can safely say I have never witnessed anything quite like it.

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Tom Fordyce

England in dreamland (349)

Paris, early hours of Sunday morning - Words - you fail me. Legs - you can’t hold me. Liver - stand by me.

I’m dreaming. I must be. Except in dreams I’ve never thrown myself into the arms of a bug-eyed, bawling Benjamin Dirs while bellowing myself bandy and thumping myself on the legs like a banjaxed Keith Moon.

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