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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Rugby a touche, Paris

During my time working in Paris, I used to look forward to Thursday lunchtimes - the day when a group of french and expatriate rugbyphiles would gather in the shadows of the eiffel tower to play a bit of touch rugby.

At the time it seemed so normal. Just a bunch of guys passing a ball around to work out some of the stress of the working week. It didn't matter that it was in the middle of paris, or that the touch lines were practically marked out by the seine on one side, the australian embassy on the other, the eiffel tower, and an 18th century Haussmannian building.

On my recent trip to Paris I trundled down to the park on a Thursday at lunchtime, half expecting it to be empty, half expecting to have to trundle back home to Max's house, now dealing with the shame of having hoped so ludicrously to be able to relive a past now three years gone.

But no, as I rounded the corner of the oval, it fast became apparent that absolutely nothing had changed - the same faces and short-shorts graced the field, the same people passing the ball forward, the same people arguing about whether the pass was forward, the same people laughing at those arguing, the same people throwing 30 metre hero passes to no one, the same blokes treating it as an international championship match between the wallabies and the all blacks. And there was the french bloke who had once tried to fly kick someone for threatening to disallow his try, and the new zealander was also there, the one who, three years ago, I was sure I was friends with, only to realise that we'd never really said anything to each other, other than 'see you at touch on thursday'.

Three years on, I have to admit, it still felt normal. Unexceptional even. And I couldn't help but love it.

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