video.  Rugby World Cup: The exciting fan zone was put to the test during the opening match between France and New Zealand

video. Rugby World Cup: The exciting fan zone was put to the test during the opening match between France and New Zealand

Prairie des Filters, the 40,000 people gathered in front of the opening match of the Rugby World Cup broke out in a cold sweat during the first part of the match before cheering.

The All Blacks begin with Kapa o Pango, the most martial of the haka, arranged by Aaron Smith. The scrum-half uses a traditional Māori spear. The 40,000 spectators gathered on the banks of the Garonne River froze in the filters of the prairie. It is as if the people of Toulouse have left the physical shell to join the Stade de France and support Fabien Galtier's players. The first evening in the fan zone in Toulouse was immediately filled with tension, worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. The first period is untenable. As the French rugby players give the impression they are defending Fort Alamo, Mathieu, painted in the colors of the tricolor, grits his teeth. The communications student, glued to the giant screen, comes to his senses and engages in a technical-tactical analysis of the meeting: “The overall impression is mixed. The New Zealanders clearly dominated and performed poorly by scoring goals immediately. The injury of hooker Marchand from Toulousan and the XV from France does not help anything. But we feel that there are moves to be made on the counter-attack, and with the preparations we have made, we will gain momentum and spread our style of play.”

Tilia glazes the fan area

The game resumes. Mark Tilia, the three-time world champions' winger, shoots himself into the net. Pauline, a young Cameroonian marketing analyst, bursts with joy under the gaze of astonished blue fans. “We are more interested in football in the country but we sympathize with the players from the Pacific Islands. We live in the same spirit.”

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A moment of intense emotion in front of the giant screen.

Matteo's predictions come true. Benaud scores the first try for the French, who lead. Through bravery, the Tricolors assert their physical superiority. Ramos takes the penalty kicks. The fan zone crowd relaxes. There are a few minutes left to play. Antoine Dupont, the darling of Toulouse, leaves the field to the applause of fans gathered at the Prairie des Filters.

“We physically broke the All Blacks.”

New signing Melvin Jaminet, a player from Stade Toulousain, scores his first try of his international career at the end of the match and decides the fate of the match. Gregory, 25, about to become a pharmacist, takes a deep breath. The curly-haired young man in a sailor's T-shirt didn't give the Blues much credit after the first half-hour of play: “We felt they were nervous. Definitely a little paralyzed by the dangers. But by refocusing on fundamentals, we were physically able to break down the All Blacks.” “The final whistle. The audience shouts with joy, but not excessively. There is still a long way to go before a potential world title shot. “At least with this victory, we should avoid the Springboks in the quarter-finals,” slips Mathieu.

The party went off without a hitch.
The party went off without a hitch.

The evening actually started an hour before kick-off when TF1 went live. The 40,000 Blues supporters cheered with joy at seeing themselves on the big screen in the fan zone. In the front rows, fans wearing Roosters jerseys clapped wildly, their faces squeezed by the pegs. Shortly before that, the atmosphere was quite hostile during the inaugural speech given by Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic. The head of state was widely booed by the people of Toulouse. When he arrived at the Prairie des Filters, Jean-Luc Modenc was entitled to a very different welcome. The chancellor of the French capital, Offaly, a good forecaster, had predicted the victory of the XV for France, without going so far as to give the result of the match. The mayor did not regret that the Pink City did not host any Blues matches: “A third of the French team is made up of players from Toulousan. It is really huge, and as I understand it, our fan zone is the first in France, before Paris.” He was able to see how well it was organized. Celebrations Just to secure the elimination of the Prairies during the Rugby World Cup, the city did not hesitate to put €1 million on the table.

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