SACRE bleu! It appears France's rugby team have given Trinity College sports fans the blues after turning up their noses at the university's rugby pitch and opting to train on the cricket field instead. The training session – which was conducted without permission of the college authorities – caused severe damage to the surface and has angered many staff and students at the university.
It all began when the French team arrived to train at the city centre campus ahead of their recent clash with Ireland at Croke Park.
Delayed in their flight from Paris, they were invited to use the college's rugby pitch for the workout. However, on seeing its poor condition, the boys in bleu decided to make for the lush, smooth green field in front of the famous Pavilion complex, normally cordoned off to prevent students ambling across the hallowed turf.
Neither the sports department nor the communications department at the college would comment on the incident last week, and reports of an investigation being carried out by the central athletics committee remain unconfirmed.
When contacted by the Sunday Tribune, Terry McAuley, director of sport, dismissed the suggestion that the incident had led to tensions between clubs but declined to comment further.
But one thing is certain, the French team – who are reported to have initially asked for and been declined permission to use the cricket field – somehow ended up there and nobody stopped them.
According to reports from within Trinity, members of some sports clubs who use the field – parts of which are also shared by the soccer and GAA teams – have complained about the damage. Speaking to Trinity News, Tony Smeeth, director of rugby at the college, said: "in these conditions it would be fair to say that we should not have invited them, it was not really fair on any of the parties concerned."
The paper noted that the "state of the surface has been the cause of much dismay" to the college sports clubs and that it was "left looking much like the neighbouring rugby pitch".
But an eyewitness to the clandestine training session said the damage could only have been minimal. "They weren't rucking or anything like that, they were just doing passing and line outs," he said.
But that has not stopped the complaints from those who normally use the surface and who claim the French came, saw and conquered before their eventual defeat to Ireland.