Ruck and Maul: Cold calculations in Paris as the French face a pay freeze

 

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With fingers of blame pointing back and forth between Ireland and France after last weekend's last-minute postponement at a frozen Stade de France, figures obtained by Ruck and Maul show an estimated €14 million changed hands over the Six Nations match that never was.

The French Rugby Federation (FFR) rent the Stade de France for €1.3m per match, in a contract that ends after next year's Six Nations (which concludes in March 2013 with the Championship's only 9pm kick-off, when France meet Scotland).

Advertising space in the 80,000-seater stadium is worth €1.5m, a proportion of which the FFR buy on behalf of their commercial partners. In terms of revenue, the FFR make around €4m a match from ticket sales, and they sell around €510,000 worth of hospitality outside the ground (the Stade de France Consortium sell the hospitality inside).

On top of that the FFR earn a low six-figure sum from match-specific merchandise, food/drink stalls and an estimated 10,000 programmes at €5 each. Then there are the flights, hotels and other travel costs of the French and Irish spectators, which may be put very conservatively at €100 a head. It is not known yet how many French and Irish will take up the offer of re-using their match tickets for the replay on 4 March.

The FFR say they had emails from the Dublin-based Six Nations Council the Monday before the match acknowledging the cold weather, and insist that any decision to postpone over the state of the pitch was the Six Nations' responsibility until the referee arrived in Paris on the Friday afternoon. The FFR could postpone only over health and safety or security issues.

John Feehan, the Six Nations' chief executive, said: "I'm not going to second-guess the FFR. They felt they could run the game with the technology they were using. We will have to drive a little more flexibility into our procedures in future."

Whoever, in Paris and Dublin, did or did not take the big decision when they had the chance, there are millions of euros to be earned by having a re-run.

It's yes or no from BoJo

Saracens hope to get a thumbs-up from rugby lover Boris Johnson this week for their plans to rebuild Copthall Stadium in north London as their new home, including an artificial pitch.

The local Barnet Council's planning committee have passed the plans but the two next steps are approval from Johnson – the Mayor of London said last June that many of his happiest moments came while playing the game – followed by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The likeliest sticking point, if any, is transport for spectators to a 10,000-capacity ground.

Saracens' chief executive, Ed Griffiths, said the club, who need to vacate Watford FC, where they host Leicester today, remain "reasonably confident" of kicking off at Copthall in mid-October.

Scotland lost in translation

If you like your rugby updates with a twist, Ruck and Maul recommends the Jakarta City News website. Someone in Indonesia is pushing the Six Nations soundbites through a language filter of dubious accuracy.

Hence we have Ross Ford, the Scotland captain, on the match in Wales: "We've asked for the roof to be closed, so that guarantees us a nice dry brawl to go out and comedy the way we appetite to."

Well, we all like a nice dry brawl, and there was an element of comedy about the Scotland attack, so is there any truth in the malapropisms?

Here's Andy Farrell, the England defence/attack coach – or "drillmaster", as Jakarta City News prefers – on the win over Scotland: "We fabricated 238 tackles, by our own statistics." The Six Nations' official statistics said England made 142 tackles.

Perhaps the usage of "fabrication" was correct? Mind you, the official stats also said Italy lost no scrums against the French, when Ruck and Maul distinctly remembers a French try scored from turning over an Italian put-in. We just don't know who to believe.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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