Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rugby - sorry, football's - Le Choc match more than crunch charity winner

Toulon's Pierrick Gunther tackles Olympique Marseille's Mathieu Valbuena
in the hybrid football/rugby charity match. Photo: AFP
SURELY this could only happen in France. And with the balmy Mediterranean air massaging the brain. Olympique Marseille, one of France's top football teams, has defeated European rugby champions Toulon in a a hybrid rugby/football charity match by - yes, one point.

And then as a side-piece of entertainment, co-referee Eric Cantona showed why he is "still the king" by lobbing over a trick rugby penalty goal that scraped the crossbar.

The other co-referee was former France coach Marx Lievremontwho almost steered Les Bleus to a shock World Rugby Cup win over the host New Zealand All Blacks in 2011.

This mad entertainment at Toulon's Stade Felix Mayol last Thursday was billed "Le Choc".

Thanks to Chris Wright of Who Ate All the Pies website for the report:

Olympique Marseille 36 Toulon 35

As pre-season friendlies go, Olympique Marseille’s match against Toulon last night was fairly unique in that Toulon are a rugby club and the game itself was a kind of mish-mash hybrid of the two codes in aid of a local charity – all refereed by Eric Cantona. Are you following?

Football and rugby on the same pitch? As Egon Spengler will tell you, you should never cross the codes. Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. That’s what will happen if you cross the codes.

The first half was played loosely adhered to the rules of football with Marseille going in 5-4 up at the break, before the silly-shaped ball, gum shields and thigh tape were brought out for the second 45 minutes – which was loosely rugby-flavoured.

Marseille just about held on to their slender lead come the final whistle, eventually winning the game 36-35 thanks to tries from Andre-Pierre Gignac, Alaixys Romao and L’OM physio Christophe Manouvrier - though new signing Dimitri Payet missed a slew of conversions throughout the second half which could and should have put the tie well and truly beyond Toulon.

Unfortunately we can’t find any footage of the match so you’ll have to make do with these photos, the first of which shows diddy 5’6″ Mathieu Valbuena (complete with scrum cap) about to be eaten whole by Toulon’s 6’3″ hairy hellbeast Pierrick Gunther…

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