Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

SMILES BETTER FOR OUR GRUMP OLD MEN; Highs and Lows: Ben Kay and Mark Regan Celebrate England's Shock Win While Australia's Lote Tuqiri (below) Feels the Pain of Defeat

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

SMILES BETTER FOR OUR GRUMP OLD MEN; Highs and Lows: Ben Kay and Mark Regan Celebrate England's Shock Win While Australia's Lote Tuqiri (below) Feels the Pain of Defeat

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

IN SPORT nothing quite beats resurrection. As thousands of fat blokes inwhite shirts danced with their corpulent counterparts in navy here inMarseille's beerdrowned old port on Saturday night, it was not just tocelebrate the most astounding day in rugby annals but also to recognise theirnational teams had both just delivered a pair of the most wondrous comebacksthis game will ever witness.

Derided and dismissed just three weeks ago, England's 'grumpy old men' pickedthemselves off the canvas to win the unwinnable then watched open mouthed asFrance's 'angry bleus brothers', pilloried here recently as little short of anational disgrace, beat the unbeatable.

There may have been more breathtaking days of sporting combat and greaterdisplays of sheer, bloody-minded cussed heroism. It's just that it felt hard torecall any as, first, England thunderously reasserted their world champions'spirit by devouring the Australian pack in the Stade Velodrome and then bigscreens showcased wild-eyed Frenchmen in Wales feasting on choking NewZealanders. Oh, the haka! The horror! It was so fantastic, this suddendelirious outbreak of the entente cordiale, that it felt almost unfair to thinkone of these two reborn titans must be put out of their misery for good comeSaturday.

France, naturally, senses the whiff of destiny now their irritating banishmentto Wales is over and their party can resume at the venue of Zinedine Zidane andCo's World Cup win.

"I don't think we'll be favourites against England," said Sebastian Chabal.

He's a wag. By the sound of the madness engulfing Paris after the All Blacks'downfall, England will be taking on not just the frothing caveman and hisbuddies but 60 million others in the Stade de France.

Yet now at least we disbelievers can understand this England outfit won't befazed, however battered they feel.

They trooped off after their nerve-shredding triumph like extras from Casualty;Andy Gomarsall with his gashed head, Jonny Wilkinson with the boot he'd takenin the face, a dazed Mike Catt, injuries to Phil Vickery's neck, Lewis Moody'sshoulder and Mark Regan's thigh. …

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