By John Ensor •
Updated: 09 Sep 2023 • 12:17
Credit: Rugby World Cup France 2023/Facebook.com
The grand opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup 2023 will sadly be remembered as an embarrassing spectacle for French President Emmanuel Macron.
Yesterday evening, Friday, September 8, during the grand inauguration of the Rugby World Cup at the Stade de France, President Emmanuel Macron faced a ferocious backlash, not just for his recent pension reforms but also due to a series of events that have shaken the nation, writes GB News.
The event commenced with renowned French actor Jean Dujardin gracing the field, soon accompanied by various artists. Acrobatic displays and a massive inflatable representation of the Eiffel Tower dominated the centre of the pitch, drawing applause and admiration from the audience.
However, the atmosphere took a sharp turn when President Macron approached the podium. The crowd’s response was a chorus of disapproval. While many were discontented over Macron’s decision earlier this year to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64, which sparked widespread protests, recent events have further fuelled the public’s anger.
This summer, the tragic shooting of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk, of Algerian and Moroccan descent, by the police during a traffic stop led to horrific riots. Additionally, Macron has been under mounting pressure to address the migrant crisis, especially given that neighbouring Belgium has been more effective at curbing small boat departures to the UK.
After delivering his address, Macron, with a stern expression, clapped for World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont upon the conclusion of his remarks.
Despite the initial jeers, the stadium soon echoed with chants of ‘Allez Les Bleus’, showing their unwavering support for the French rugby team. The crowd then united in singing the national anthem, ‘La Marseillaise’. Subsequently, the French team squared off against New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup’s opening match.
Before the tournament’s commencement, the French team faced scrutiny due to the inclusion of lock Bastien Chalureau. The 31-year-old player from Montpellier is currently challenging a suspended six-month jail term related to a racially-charged assault in 2020.
Addressing the media on Monday, he stated, ‘I am not a racist, I do not have those values.’ He further added, ‘What I want to say to you is that I confessed to my mistakes, that I paid my debts and I deny all claims about racist remarks.’
Following the opening tense match, French fans finally left the stadium happy with a victory over the mighty All Blacks: France 27 – 13 New Zealand.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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