Tuesday, 12 January 2010

A ruthless war song

Via the excellently enthusiastic Rugby-Pioneers blog I've come across a great Toulon rugby tradition. Apparently the supporters have a call and response chant that mimics to a degree the All Blacks' haka. They use it at the beginning of the game and sometimes during it:

The words translate as follows (crowd's response in brackets):
We are the ruthless Pilou-Pilou warriors
Coming down from the mountain to the sea
With our tousled women breastfeeding our children
Under the shade of the great white coconut trees
We the ruthless warriors sing our ruthless war song
I said our our RUTHLESS WAR SONG!
Because Tou-lon
Because Tou-lon
Because Tou-lon

I love French rugby (I posted on it here) - it seems to be a more imaginative sport there than elsewhere. You have to love that Gauginesque reference to 'tousled women breastfeeding our children / Under the shade of the great white coconut trees'.

As worthy as little tin-plated saucepans may be of sung praise,  in comparison they are a bit prosaic (on the other hand, pilou translates as cotton lint - no idea why).

Jonny Wilkinson is currently playing in Toulon and is apparently renewing his contract for another season. He's enjoying the whole experience it seems. I certainly can't think of many better places to play rugby. Passionate local support, a Latin commitment to flair (and brutality too, however) and the mild weather. Then off the field all that great food and wine. Just what that uptight little bore needs, I'd say.

Before Jonny and other new recruits put the spotlight on the club, I would have associated Toulon primarily with Eric Champ (right), the French flanker of the 1980s. An unconventional open side flanker for the time, being 6'5", I remember him as a real handful for opposition teams - and sometimes his own, given his ill-discipline. He was also in possession of a haircut that would have made Kevin Keegan weep with envy.

I haven't been to Toulon for about twenty years but despite it being a rough sea port (it's the home of France's Mediterranean fleet) I remember the Old Town being full of character and a great place for seafood. At night I might now find a tour of its bars a bit too lively. It's not on any tourist itineraries but well worth a visit if you're passing by. For lunch, say.


worm said...

dirty buggers those froggies - we had a french rugby coach at my school and he was always teaching us how to covertly maim the opposition. Most unsporting.

He did also let us drink beer on school trips though, so all is forgiven.

Brit said...

"French Battle Songs" ... sounds a bit like "Great German Jokes" or "Australian Etiquette".

Sean said...

I think you will find France's Mediterranean fleet running to a few fishing boats and a plenty of "holiday" cruisers for the drug and immigrant run to northern Africa.

" tousled " ? so I take it they think their women are a bunch of tramps?

Gaw said...

Worm: Are you sure he wasn't Welsh?

Brit: Toulon is the city Napoleon successfully besieged as a Major of Artillery. The renown he won there ultimately led to his becoming Emperor and terrorising the whole of Europe with his French armies. There's more to France than WW2!

And there are few more bloodthirstily stirring songs than the Marseillaise:

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions
Let us march, Let us march!
That our fields may run red;
steeped in tainted blood.

Sean: In a sense, French women often do have a trampish quality to them. But that's another story...

Brit said...

Yes, there's also Waterloo and Trafalgar.

Gaw said...

The Royal Navy meant Britain couldn't be defeated.

The British Army was just one of a number - and not necessarily the most important one - to fight and eventually defeat Napoleon.

The British Treasury was instrumental in keeping all those other armies in the field.

It was the French who were the most straightforwardly warlike.

Napoleon was nearly right when he called us a nation of shopkeepers - we were actually a nation of bond market players. Plus ça change!

Sean said...

I see what you mean Garth :0)

This is a link

BTW, The current war is being fought this way.

This too is a link

Gaw said...

First link delightful. Second link, depressing but could be a sign of desperation?

Sean said...

Desperate I think is an under statement.

One way or another I think its going to be ugly, the theocracy have enough support and enough force to hold the counter revolutionaries at bay.

At the end of the day its the not nuclear weapons that are the problem, even a democratic and secular Iran living in the region it does would probably want nuclear weapons. It is and has always been the regime that is the problem.

The current policy of engagement and disruption I fear is Hissing in the wind.

Gadjo Dilo said...

I would have hated playing rugby (though I always dream that had I been an entirely different person I would have thoroughly enjoyed it). At least it gave Asterix and Obelix something to respect about Britain and something take back with them to Gaul.

Gaw said...

Sean: In that great cop-out: only time will tell.

Gadjo: I think a lot of English people get put off because rugby in England is often more objectionable than elsewhere.