The rugby team of La Rochelle, near where we are spending this long weekend, is doing unexpectedly well. Tonight they beat Lyon, the league leaders, away from home in the rain to go second. There was one try – we heard a cheer from the nearby bars of Châtelaillon as it was scored.
This is à propos of this quote about Eddie Jones, England’s (to me) faith-inducing head rugby union coach:
Jones watched the Tour de France, liaising with the Australian team Orica-Scott. “The cyclists ride 240km and then have a 45-minute cycle to their bus,” he said. “Imagine asking a rugby player to walk five kilometres to the dressing room after a game: they complain if they have to walk upstairs. Cyclists deal with that and stay in two-star hotels: their mindset is they will put up with anything to get the job done. I am not saying rugby is soft in comparison, merely that we do not know how far we can go.” (The Observer, 6 August 2017)
The photo, taken in a bar in Haaltert, shows the finish of the Round of Flanders in April this year. Like the rugby in Chatel this evening, as I walked through the interconnected villages that spring day everyone was aware of the race going on. I don’t know which is tougher – I could believe it is the cycling – but the toughness is part of what makes us want to follow both these sports.