Latin America: The Passion of the World
(Written by Azul: October 18,2023)
With the afterglow of the spectacular opening of the RWC 2023 in France the day before, we traveled from Toulouse to Marseille to watch England vs Argentina, the hot card of Group D. The distance was 319 km, so we took the train this time.
The photo above shows the Mataviot station in Toulouse, the gateway to the train.
We were a little happy to be on the famous French high-speed train, TGV, for the first time. However, the TGV does not run on a dedicated line like the Shinkansen in Japan, but on a conventional line, so it was not so fast. The maximum speed is said to be over 300 km/h, but the train we boarded was an older model, and it took 4 hours to travel 319 km, so the speed was on par with Japanese express trains.
Another difference from Japanese stations is that there were no ticket gates. We had obtained our tickets to Marseille in advance via the Internet, so there was a confirmation after we boarded the train. As Marseille neared, the sea came into view, and we were impressed by the view of the resort in the south of France, which we had longed for in the past.
At around 12:30, we arrived at Marseille, where the venue for today’s match, Stade de Marseille, is located.
Supporters from various countries were gathering at Saint-Charles station here in Marseille, as the RWC match was finally going to be held. Kick-off time is 21:00, so we decided to spend the time until the match starts by sightseeing in Marseille.
The Saint-Charles train station was opened in 1848 and has a history of more than 170 years. The history of Marseille is said to have begun with the opening of the port here around 600 B.C., making it a cosmopolitan city with a long history that predates the founding of France and even the Roman Empire.
Although it is now September, it is still summer. The temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius, and we were afraid of heat stroke if we stayed in the sun all day. So we walked toward the sea in the port city of Marseille.
Here in Marseille, not only the group league games but also the two final tournaments of RWC2023 will be held.
On the way to the port, we saw one of the tourist attractions of Marseille, the Arc de Triomphe (also known as the Aix Gate).
The Arc de Triomphe in Marseille was built in 1839, three years after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was constructed.
Then, on a small hill overlooking the harbor, I saw Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, another tourist attraction in Marseille.
We arrived at the port of Marseille after a 15-minute walk from the station. As expected of an international port town, three large cruise ships were docked there.
Since we were so close to the sea, we decided to join the landing tour on If Island, which is a standard sightseeing tour in Marseille. The price was 6 euros, which was a good deal considering the content of the tour. We were able to board the boat right away at the right time, and the boat departed at 13:30.
Marseille is indeed a port city. There was a rich international atmosphere.
There were many people in line, but the cabins were empty. Many tourists seemed to be enjoying the cruise on the deck of the ship.
We arrived at If Island in less than 30 minutes after boarding the ship.
This island is a prison island that was once used to incarcerate many political prisoners and was depicted as the setting of the novel “Le Conte de Monte Cristo” by the great writer Dumas.
And the Castle of If, located here, is the prison.
Walking through the prison, I found various types of prisons. Those with serious crimes were chained in rooms with almost no windows, and as their crimes became less serious, the windows for lighting became larger and larger. I imagine that it was difficult to escape from the prison because it was almost an isolated island in the middle of the sea.
The photo above shows a window of a prison cell of a political prisoner who was probably convicted of a serious crime. This is the only window.
The former prison island is now a standard tourist attraction and is visited by many tourists every day.
There was also a restaurant and souvenir store on If Island. I bought a folding umbrella here as a souvenir.
After the island tour, I returned to Marseille.
Around 3:00 p.m., I walked around the port of Marseille and found the RWC2023 Fun Zone.
There were RWC2023 commemorative goods, snacks, and beer for sale.
We also had a late lunch here. Beer was 10 euros and a dish of fried potatoes and meat was 5 euros. There were many supporters of Argentina and England, who had matches on that day.
It was great to come to France, cruise in Marseille, have a nice meal, and watch the RWC 2023 match.
Then, around 4:00 p.m., we decided to go to the stadium anyway.
In Marseille, I saw many Argentine supporters. I felt excited about the match.
It took about 10 minutes from Saint-Charles station in Marseille to the stadium by subway.
There were many supporters gathered around the stadium waiting for the game to start. The number of supporters was about the same between England and Argentina, but I was overwhelmed by the passion of the Argentine supporters. They sang everywhere around the venue, and it was just like an Argentine carnival.
** Rugby goods I bought in France 4 **
This is a commemorative scarf I bought at the official RWC2023 store in front of the stadium. I am not sure if my memory is correct, but I think it cost 39 euros. It has the date of the match and the opposing country woven into it.
Finally, 90 minutes before kickoff, we were able to enter the stadium.
Stade de Marseille is the second largest stadium in the tournament with a capacity of 67,847. I bought my ticket on a resale site, and since I had no other choice, I bought a category 1 ticket, which cost 300 euros. Good seats indeed.
There was an English TV crew in front of our seats, talking with the English players.
Kick-off time was approaching. As of September 9, the day of the match, the England team was ranked 8th in the world. The Argentine national team was ranked 6th in the world, and the pre-match prediction on sports TV was in favor of Argentina. In the most recent test match, Argentina beat England by a narrow margin. In addition, England captain Farrell was suspended for the big match after being shown a red card for a foul in the match before the RWC 2023 began.
This is a very tough situation for the England team.
The following is the starting member of England.
The two countries also met in RWC 2019, with England winning outright. Will Argentina be humiliated?
Argentina will be looking for revenge after being eliminated from the qualifying pool in the last tournament.
The following is the starting member of Argentina.
|3||Francisco Gomez Kodela||184cm||121kg||38||32|
|8||Juan Martin Gonzalez||191m||101kg||22||25|
|15||Juan Cruz Mallia||182cm||88kg||27||15|
The game kicked off at 21:00.
3 minutes into the first half, England flanker CURRY was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle and was sent off. This meant that England was outnumbered for most of the match. Argentina’s supporters suddenly became very enthusiastic and started cheering loudly. At this point, the situation was the exact opposite of the previous tournament, and I predicted a big win for Argentina.
The England standoff for this match was George Ford. This player, who was mainly a reserve under the previous coach, was chosen to be England’s leader under the new coach. When he saw that Argentina’s defense was strong, he switched to a tactic of kicking instead of aiming for tries, and scored one PG and three DGs in a row in the first half, pulling the game into England’s favor at once.
Ford’s 3 DGs in the first half were a god-like performance that will go down in the history of the World Cup. I had never seen such a game before.
PG success in the first 10 minutes.
Successful DGs in the 27th, 31st, and 37th minutes of the first half. One of them was scored from near the halfway point of the ground, and I wondered if Ford, and England, had a goddess of victory on their side.
The England supporters could no longer stop screaming. Until the first 10 minutes of the first half, the venue was a place of celebration for Argentine supporters, but England’s SO Ford’s performance silenced them.
The first half ended with England leading by a score of 12-3. As expected, DGs have a great talent. It is a very difficult move, and the crowd cheered loudly when it was executed.
In the second half, Argentina took advantage of having one more player, and could they make a comeback?
The second half began, but Argentina fell prey to England’s tactics and repeatedly committed infractions in enemy territory. PGs in the 6th, 14th, 19th, 26th, and 35th minutes of the second half finally made the score 27-3, and the game was deadlocked.
The English supporters, who had looked like bitches at the start of the match, looked back at the Argentine supporters and said, “Look at us, we’ve won the game!
The hero of the day, England’s SO George. Ford. It was a godlike performance.
In the end, Argentina showed their determination by scoring one try at the end of the match, but it was no more than a stone’s throw. Before the end of the match, many Argentine supporters left their seats and went home.
England supporters were happy to see the match end. This match was said to be the biggest climax of Pool D, so England got a step ahead to advance to the final tournament.
When the game ended at 23:00, we rushed back to Saint-Charles station. It was very difficult to get on the train because more than 60,000 spectators were concentrated at the metro station. We had originally planned to stay overnight in Marseille after the match, but we had to give up the plan because the hotel price in Marseille had risen to seven times the price of the original plan. Therefore, we decided to take a late night bus back to Toulouse.
The price was 670 euros per night if we stayed in Marseille, but it was only 60 euros per night if we took the midnight bus.
After returning to the hotel, I had a good night’s sleep, and finally I was going to watch a game of the Japanese national team.
**Rugby goods I bought in France 5 **
I bought this T-shirt at the department store in front of the stadium in Marseille. It was 35 euros. It is not an official product of RWC2023, but I liked the design, so I bought it.
Stop the war.
Peace to Ukraine