Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Rugby World Cup 2023

L’agony! France in despair after World Cup exit – but Paris party can reignite rugby

From Calais to Cannes, there was a feeling that, like the football World Cup team in 1998, this was finally the time for Les Bleus. But despite the bitter disappointment of that extraordinary quarter-final exit, Harry Latham-Coyle finds there’s plenty hope that the final fortnight won’t fizzle out without the pyrotechnics this thrilling tournament has delivered in spades

Friday 20 October 2023 08:23 BST
The World Cup may lose the passion and vibrancy of France fans after Les Bleus’ exit
The World Cup may lose the passion and vibrancy of France fans after Les Bleus’ exit (PA)

Even the skies are sorrowful. On Wednesday morning the heavens opened, the pitter patter on Paris pavements a strange, solemn sound after a month-and-a-half in which this Rugby World Cup had basked in sunshine. As the two semi-finals move closer, the forecast grows grimmer – after France’s exit at the hands of the Springboks on Sunday, the clouds and a rugby nation weep.

Welcome to a Paris party to which the hosts are no longer invited. After a thrilling quarter-final weekend, one that it would not be an overstatement to describe as this ailing sport’s greatest ever, the World Cup woke up on Monday morning confronting a future without the home side, the tournament’s final fortnight stripped of the partisan popularity that could have brought that extra va-va-voom.

At a brasserie on Tuesday evening, our group asked a canoodling couple if we might sit at the table next to them? “Yes,” came the reply, muttered over a consolatory carafe of vin rouge. “As long as you’re not South African.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in