Fans on a high in Paris as Ireland claims Six Nations victory
St Patrick’s Day parties begin early as supporters paint City of Light green
Irelan supporters celebrate the victory against France during the Six Nations rugby union match at Stade de France. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA
Irish fans Michael Coyne and Oliver Broderick from Co Waterford celebrate victory in Paris. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
The St Patrick’s Day parties were beginning 48 hours early in Paris on Saturday night, as celebrating Irish rugby supporters painted the City of Light green.
After an excruciatingly tense evening at the Stade de France, with memories of last November’s defeat to the All Blacks haunting us to the last, the final whistle and a two-point victory for Ireland sent the visiting fans into paroxysms of relief and delight.
By the time Paul O’Connell had lifted the Six Nations trophy, even the famously depressive Fields of Athenry sounded as if they were a high as, along with the Irish supporters, they headed for other local fields, including the Champs Elysees, to commence festivities.
Highlights from Paris
Brian O'Driscoll post-match interview
Although the national saint has been conspicuously unhelpful in countless previous mid-March championship deciders, he may be able to claim some of the credit on this occasion.
In his honour, the more religious Irish supporters had started the day by making the steep climb up to the Butte de Montmartre, where the basilica of Sacre Coeur was hosting the city’s official St Patrick’s Day mass for the first time.
The decision to hold the service two days early was not an attempt to invoke divine help on Ireland’s behalf, apparently. In fact, with the tricolours of both the visiting and host country flanking the altar, the event was ostensibly neutral about the game.
But it was noticeable, in any case, that many of the green-shorted supporters were hedging their bets, religion-wise. They may have been facing the altar, but quite a few of them were also displaying “In Bod We Trust” slogans on their backs. And as so many times before, their faith in the Irish No. 13 was to be vindicated before the day was out.
The outgoing messiah of Irish rugby was yet again judged Man of the Match on his final appearance. His likes will not be seen again. But as the supporters celebrate into the night on the banks of the Seine, it is too early to worry about the new messiah might be.