The Devils Den - Home to Debbie

May 8, 2011

France ... an Old Tasmanian Devils story

Category:Past Festivals 
Posted by: cleslight

Ahhh Paris, it still brings back memories.

Of course I was 10 years younger and newly married and Paris is the city of love; so there are those memories of strolling the boulevards at night with my wife Belinda, sipping champagne from the bottle on the steps of a medieval church and some of the best food I have ever eaten.

But, there are also memories of my first golden oldies rugby tour with the Old Tasmania Devils ... a collection of some of the greatest rugby talent never to have been selected for the Wallabies.

Marching down the street with rugby mad French men and women yelling Tasmanee! Tasmanee! Is somewhat surreal for those unaccustomed to the Golden Oldies festival life, but it sure is a buzz when the crowds are cheering for you.

Now the entertainment on the pitch may been the highlight for some – from recollection an unfavourable draw, a draw and a favourable draw – it was the after hours activities that ensured I came back for future tours.

John Lane vowing to not drink any wine dearer that a bottle of orange juice until the last night on tour (and succeeding) shows the internal fortitude of those on this tour.

Jim Oakham peeling off the back of the scrum to score next to the posts (Jim was on crutches at the time and the try had been ‘allowed’ by the opposition, but our ability to move the scrum and his unfeigned joy during his celebrations that night will live with me forever.

My wife insulting a  French waiter accidentally by asking why her rose hadn’t been delivered and then realising she had poured in on her salad thinking it was a vinegarette as it had been delivered in a little stone stoppered jug. Apparently, suggesting the wine is only good for salad dressing doesn’t sit well with the French.

And my favourite highlight ... sitting in a Spanish restaurant where the only other language spoken is French and trying to order a meal ... it was worthy of a Monty Python sketch as the waiter, frustrated by our lack of language, mimed the dishes for us.

Cow were easy when he gave himself horns, chicken wings were a breeze, but we all thought we were ordering centipedes are one extravagant wiggling motion only to find out it was octopus when it arrived ... I think some of us were relieved, others disappointed.

The same night the waiter tried to warn us that we should only get one bucket of sangria, but fearlessly we pushed on with our three buckets to then find out they really were pails of about five litres each ... our waiter was amazed we finished it all.
And with Japan just around the corner, I can reveal that during the closing ceremony a little Japanese ‘veteran’ and I stood admiring the Can Can dancers for several minutes before shaking hands and wandering off. Neither of us spoke a word of the other’s language, but for a few minutes we were brothers in the game of life.

France ... the memories will never fade.