How to survive the Rugby World Cup in France (or just find the nearest good watering hole)

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The Independent Online

From Friday of this week, joueurs de rugby from all over the world will be putting on their maillots and their crampons and their protège dents. The avants will be strapping their casques onto their heads and piling into their first melées.

After the match (won, naturally, by the meilleure équipe) the foule will partake of the troisieme mi-temps (literally "third half"). Tens of thousands of thirsty rugby fans from England and Australia, Ireland and South Africa, will forget all about "pints" and "bevvies" and "tinnies". They will ask for une pression or un demi or un verre de vin rouge, maybe in rare cases une eau minerale or un jus de fruit.

They will frequently boire un coup with their new French friends, asking, politely, qu'est-ce-que tu veux (what do you want) or insisting, c'est ma tournée! (it's my shout).

The following day, many will doubtless wake up mal à la tête or with la gueule de bois (a hangover). They will say je ne me sens pas bien (I don't feel well) or j'ai la tête qui tourne (I'm dizzy), or maybe, où sont les toilettes. In extreme case, they may say: Il me faut un medécin (I need a doctor) or au secours (help) or s'il vous plaît, appelez une ambulance (please call an ambulance).

Rugby is a global game, played mostly in English-speaking countries. For the first time this year, the Rugby World Cup, starting on Friday for seven weeks, will be played in France.

More than 350,000 foreign fans are expected to watch the 48 matches between 20 teams. To try to promote the French language, and promote fraternal feelings among rugby fans from four continents, the French government has launched a progamme called Oui, je parle le Rugby (yes, I speak Rugby).

The programme seeks to promote learning of the French language. For those for whom this is trop tard (too late), it also includes a useful kit de survie en français (French survival kit). It includes indispensable phrases such as je ne comprends pas (I don't understand); comment vous appelez vous? (what's your name?); je suis celibatairé (I am not married); je suis perdu (I am lost); or où est le stade?" (where's the stadium?).

It also includes a basic guide to playing the game. A scrum-half is a demi de mêlée. A tackle is a placage. A drop is un drop. A maul is un maul. A ruck is un ruck. But, an up-and-under is une chandelle (literally, a candle).

The survival kit also includes (unwittingly) useful phrases for English-speaking players wishing to wind up French opponents in the scrum. Vous connaissez un endroit bien pour danser, ce soir? (Do you know a good place to go dancing tonight?)

And when the final sifflet (whistle) blows on the last partie (game), when the last hola (Mexican wave) encircles the Stade de France on 20 October, lets hope that it's the supporters of your équipe (team) who are saying on va fêter ça? (where's the nearest pub?)

Le glossary

* Le maillot: the jersey

* Les crampons: studs or football boots

* Les avants : the forwards

* Les arrières: the backs

* Le protégé: gum shield

* Le casque: scrum cap

* La mêlée: scrum

* Une pression or un demi: a beer

* Un verre de vin rouge (blanc): a glass of red (white) wine

* Une eau minérale: a mineral water

* Un jus de fruit: a fruit juice

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