Sunday, March 16, 2008

Vive les Gallois...

Nothing raises friendly nationalistic fervour quite like an international sporting event and it can be on such occasions that the expat's position can be a little uncomfortable. Usually for us, as Brits in France, we have no problem showing support for local teams in big matches, or for a French national team against most other countries - that seems the most appropriate thing to do in our host country.

Even when France is playing England at soccer or rugby, where there is a long history of intense rivalry (which probably reflects the two countries' relationship for many centuries!), there is not really a problem. It is generally assumed we are English but at times like this we can stress that we are actually Welsh (Gallois) and adopt a certain impartiality about the match!

Well, yesterday saw the Welsh succeed in winning the annual Six Nations rugby competition and on top of that achieving the "grand slam" - not losing a match to any of the other countries. A superb feat which will have have been celebrated throughout Wales! With there being five other nations, yesterday's deciding match could have turned out to be against England, Ireland, Italy, or Scotland, but in fact this final struggle for the championship was between Wales... and France.

So, forgetting about the outcome yesterday, what is the appropriate stance when your home country is playing your host country? Some carefully phrased diplomatic comments about the strengths of both teams? Some might think that would be a typically British approach. I'm not so sure how French people living in the UK would generally play it but I have a feeling that most would be more likely just to be openly patriotic. Perhaps that is the most honest approach and would actually be the most respected. For us, other things kept us away from sharing the match with anyone local, so we were not put to the test - however, maybe one might think twice about cheering on another nation in the middle of a packed French bar...

2 comments:

jb said...

Hi!!

First i must congratulate your team, i saw the match and your level was really higher....too bad for us!!

I agree that it's not always easy to support your national team when it's playing against your host country....

It depends on the country maybe...I have been leaving for a little while in Ireland and there it was quite easy to support your national team. I remember being in a local pub with 3 french friends following a football match that we won against Ireland !! But in the end, some people shake our hands and were relly nice to us!!!

Will Pow said...

Yes, like Ireland, people in rural Languedoc have a reputation for being very friendly and welcoming - I would only be cautious because rugby is almost like a religion here...