It’s Tuesday, August 12th. In thirty minutes the Eurostar will whisk me away from Ashford and two hours later spit me out in Paris. My last taste of English cuisine (a heavily buttered sausage sandwich lathered with brown sauce) rumbles through the chunnel of my digestive system. A quick perusal of the Times sports section shockingly turns up not even a mention of England and Ireland’s historic semi-final clash in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup tomorrow. If Ireland and England’s men were a day away from a World Cup semi-final, there would be pages devoted to the match. I find a Daily Telegraph that has half a page on the match. It also has a half page article on national eligibility for 7s in the 2016 Olympics. For the past few days I have lived among my English in-laws. Several are sport fanatics, but none had more than the slightest of interest in this World Cup. If I wander too far from #WRWC2014 on Twitter, large parts of the sports world seem oblivious to this tournament .
I have arrived in Paris and go to the stadium to pick up my press pass. I can’t see a banner or poster anywhere on the street, not in the windows of bars and restraurants, not on the side of the stadium. I get that this tournament should at least break even and tickets are only 25 Euros or less, but you would think a sponsor would come forward to help celebrate what is about to take place here.
I’ve heard that the 20,000+ seat Jean Bouin Stadium has been sold out for the final day of the tournament on August 17th and is close to sold-out for tomorrow’s three matches (New Zealand/Wales, Ireland/England, France/Canada). Playing 3 matches in the same stadium is a good idea to fill the stadium. France will be appearing in this stadium both days. They play the last match tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if what is expected to be a large French crowd will turn up for the earlier matches.
I reserved my hotel close to the Jean Bouin Stadium many months ago fully expecting to watch the USA play here. A photographer friend who also booked in this area said it took him 3 hours each way to cross Paris to watch pool matches at the French Rugby Federation’s pitches in Marcoussis on August 9th. I erroneously thought there might be a press shuttle between the two locations. I am expecting to be able to watch USA vs Australia on a video feed in the Jean Bouin Stadium tomorrow.
Here are the teams I expect to win on Day 4 of 2014 Women’s World Cup:
At Marcoussis: South Africa over Samoa, Spain over Kazakhstan, USA over Australia
At Stade Jean Bouin: New Zealand over Wales, Ireland over England, and Canada over France
(I cheated a little on the last two. I just listened to a podcast with Allison Donnelly of @ScrumQueens and liked her reasoning.)
The hotel room comes with breakfast. I am expecting the petit-dejeuner to be better than the sausage sandwich I had in Ashford this morning.
Expectations are high!