In the end, the fairytale was not to be. As the clock ticked down to the end of the World Cup final, the disheartened voice of the commentator easily carried over the now silent crowd of tens of thousands who had gathered with so much hope in Ban Jelačić Square in Zagreb. As the final whistle blew, and it was confirmed that France had won 4-2, the crowd that had been mostly quiet for the last 10 minutes of the game started clapping. Fans who had gathered in cafes and other viewing spots around town started moving towards the square to join the main crowd as Lijepa Naša, the Croatian anthem, blared out from the big speakers. “We are sad, but second place is still a big deal for Croatia. We’ll all forget about it all once they come home tomorrow,” says Marijana Pereira, a 26-year-old teacher. Earlier, the huge crowd had gathered in Zagreb from all corners of Croatia to watch the big screen in the square. The city of Osijek rented an entire passenger … [Read more...] about Philosophical fans celebrate Croatia’s historic World Cup, despite final defeat
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JAPAN kicked off the 2019 Rugby World Cup with a 30-10 victory against Russia. Kotaro Matsushima scored a hat-trick for the tournament hosts as Japan overcame a scare after Kirill Golosnitskiy gave Russia a shock lead early on. Here, former Ireland international Stephen Ferris gives his predictions for his nations clash against Scotland and England's match against Tonga. I REMEMBER the buildup of excitement and just being eager to kick things off in 2011. You think about the weather, the atmosphere, the fans, the stadium and just have to take it all in. You’ve got to think about the processes in place and the lead-up to the match. I concentrated on my training. The last thing you want is to go into matches and not be in good shape, dropping balls and getting nervous and anxious. Waiting to go, you have the nerves, the energy and the buzz. But as soon as that first whistle blows, you go into match mode and everything else takes care of itself.IRELAND VS SCOTLAND - Ferris predicts … [Read more...] about Ireland hero Ferris gives you his Rugby World Cup tips ahead of England v Tonga and Ireland v Scotland clashes
France’s recent history with football has been tightly linked to the struggle over its identity. For decades, politicians have used the diversity of the national team either as a symbol of integration at work, or as a warning of Le Grand Remplacement (the big replacement) – that “ethnically French” citizens are being excluded by those whose roots lie in Africa. Following France’s win, the far-right writer Renaud Camus has retweeted videos criticising diversity in France. More than half the squad are of African origin, including key players Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappé and N’Golo Kanté, so the team in some ways represents his greatest fears. Yet the scenes of celebration on the Champs-Élysées and beyond show how France has claimed these players. It feels like the breath of fresh air that France has so badly needed, after the trauma following the terror attacks of recent years, and an election in which the far-right Front National made … [Read more...] about France squandered the unity of its last World Cup win. This time must be different
If ever there was a time for Paul Pogba to dab and dance, to snapchat and sing to his heart’s content without giving a soul with any sense the opportunity even to tut, this was it. With Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium his stage, he dabbed with president Macron. He dabbed with his mother and brothers on the pitch. He dabbed with an iconic 36.8cm piece of sculpted gold that means everything in football. A world champion, a scorer of a goal that felt result-defining in the final, a fulcrum for his team, a massive personality revered back home, the only thing missing was a hairdresser on hand to create a World Cup-shaped cut to mark this most glorious of moments. With Pogba in his exuberant element – the master of social media filming non-stop in the dressing room, on the bus, encouraging all sorts of celebratory flourishes with his band of World Cup-winning brothers – he felt so central to everything about this French generation. During the course of this tournament his … [Read more...] about From doubted to dominator: Paul Pogba’s World Cup evolution
JOE SCHMIDT has coached his final Ireland match - but it wasn't a nice finale. The New Zealander watched on as his six-year reign ended in a 46-14 defeat to his home nation in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final. Former England coach Andy Farrell will take over from Schmidt.What is Joe Schmidt's next job? There are not many bigger jobs in international rugby for Joe Schmidt to move into - and he is swiping those away as well. The 54-year-old New Zealander ruled out taking over the nation of his birth in January and even told that he has no interest in getting another job for 12 months after the World Cup, as reported by The Irish Times. Schmidt has also insisted he would go for the British & Irish Lions role with fellow countryman Warren Gatland retaining the job for the 2021 tour.Rugby World Cup predictor game: £10k prize pot up for grabs1) Come and play our brand new Rugby World Cup game 2) Make pre-tournament and daily predictions to accumulate points 3) Compete for … [Read more...] about What is Joe Schmidt’s next job and why’s he leaving Ireland after Rugby World Cup?