L’agony! France in despair after World Cup exit – but Paris party can reignite rugby

The World Cup may lose the passion and vibrancy of France fans after Les Bleus’ exit

Even the skies are sorrowful. On Wednesday morning the heavens opened, the pitter patter on Paris pavements a strange, solemn sound after a month-and-a-half in which this Rugby World Cup had basked in sunshine. As the two semi-finals move closer, the forecast grows grimmer – after France’s exit at the hands of the Springboks on Sunday, the clouds and a rugby nation weep.

Welcome to a Paris party to which the hosts are no longer invited. After a thrilling quarter-final weekend, one that it would not be an overstatement to describe as this ailing sport’s greatest ever, the World Cup woke up on Monday morning confronting a future without the home side, the tournament’s final fortnight stripped of the partisan popularity that could have brought that extra va-va-voom.

At a brasserie on Tuesday evening, our group asked a canoodling couple if we might sit at the table next to them? “Yes,” came the reply, muttered over a consolatory carafe of vin rouge. “As long as you’re not South African.”

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