What the French newspapers are saying on Wednesday about France winning the right to host the 2023 World Cup and Saturday’s Test against the Springboks.
‘A beautiful day for France!’ screams the front page of Le Parisien, the capital’s tabloid that normally skims over rugby and focuses most of its sporting energy on football.
The news of France’s successful bid for the 2023 World Cup came on the same day that Airbus beat Boeing to a record $50-billion contract, hence the combination of Sébastien Chabal and a jetliner on the front page.
The newspaper doesn’t devote much of its coverage to the bidding process that saw France stun South Africa, preferring to concentrate on the economic facts and figures, such as the 17,000 jobs that will come with the tournament, the 450,000 overseas visitors expected and the €119-million that will swell the state’s coffers.
Le Figaro hails the victory as a personal triumph for Bernard Laporte, the FFR president, who was elected 11 months ago when the French bid lacked the dynamism of its Irish and South African rivals. By the time the FFR had tendered their bid on 1 June, Laporte had reinvigorated the campaign and Le Figaro salutes his self-belief and energy in pulling off a victory few in France believed possible on Wednesday morning.
Laura Flessel, for example, France’s minister of sport, wasn’t in London for the announcement because ‘she didn’t want to be associated with defeat’ but she was quick to tweet her jubilation and boast that ‘more than ever France is the champion of organising great sporting events’.
L’Equipe devotes its first five pages to yesterday’s announcement, and says that crucial to the French success was World Rugby’s recommendation last month that South Africa should host the tournament. Not only did that shock Laporte but it provoked two weeks of manic energy on his part as he and the rest of the team reached out to individual unions to ‘re-explain and outline’ the benefits of their bid.
As for the losers, L’Equipe says Ireland ‘regrets the lack of solidarity’ shown by the other home nations towards its bid, but its frustration is nothing compared to the ‘anger’ felt by South Africa. Since World Rugby recommended South Africa on 31 October, the ‘innuendo’ emanating from France with regard to that decision has ‘not been to [South Africa’s] taste’.
Meanwhile, L’Equipe also carries a long interview with France captain Guilhem Guirado in which he says there are ‘several reasons’ why he is confident they will beat the Springboks on Saturday. Not least of which is desire for revenge after June’s ‘catastrophic tour’ in which they were whitewashed 3-0 by South Africa.
By Gavin Mortimer in Paris