Friday, October 10, 2008

Mistaken Identity at Ravenhill?

Stade Francais Jersey
An Spailpín Fánach doesn’t normally comment on the Heineken Cup rugby, as your faithful narrator hasn’t a team to support in the competition, and wouldn’t be able to watch them even if he had, being too poor to afford Sky Sports. However, tomorrow’s clash at Ravenhill between Ulster and Stade Francais is nearly worth getting into the motor and hitting the M1 for. Not because of the rugby, but because of the fashion.

Stade Francais are very francais indeed. Some years ago, they caused eyebrows to be raised in traditional circles when they played in a pink away jersey, not the most macho of shades. But the French are who they are, and they shrugged and got on with it. However, when State run out at Ravenhill tomorrow in their other away jersey, they might the locals object to more than the colour.

The jersey in question is at the top of this post. An Spailpín thinks it’s quite beautiful, actually, although your correspondent is an ardent traditionalist in the matter of jerseys generally. The lady featured on the jersey is Blanche de Castille, queen and regent of France at the start of the 13th century, and a woman noted in her day for taking no nonsense from the Tan.

Two thumbs up from An Spailpín Fánach on that one. However, the faithful in Ravenhill may not have access to Wikipedia, and in that absence, they may take one look at the head tilted sideways and the crown, and think “Popery! Close the gates! Close the gates!”

An Spailpín Fánach remembers the misfortunate Noel Thompson of BBC Northern Ireland reading the news when Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was released, and having to keep a straight face while intoning that “some church groups here have warned that the film may lead to Mariology and virgin worship.”

Don’t forget, there was holy – what else? – war up the way when a Heineken Cup game was played on the Sabbath, something the ERC had to promise would never happen again. What the locals will make of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, Bride of the Canticle, Eve’s Tears Redeeming and Immaculate Mediatrix of All Graces taking second-phase pop give-and-go ball on the loop to get inside Andrew Trimble and dot down in the corner is anybody’s guess.

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