I don’t expect there are many inter-school rivalries which are separated not only by country borders but also by large bodies of water and by language. But for LBS, our most competitive sports matches are played only after showing our passports, crossing the English Channel, and mastering the phrase “parlez vous anglais?” For INSEAD is our greatest rival on the field (and possibly off too) and nothing is quite as satisfying as vanquishing these baguette eating, wine swirling opponents.
Perhaps this particular rivalry is merely an extension of the long history shared between Britain and France; a history of Napoleonic proportions. For the 70 men of the LBS Rugby Club who set off from St Pancras and were destined for the INSEAD campus at Fontainebleau, it was certainly a matter of pride in maintaining our dominance over our French neighbours. Now, what goes on tour usually stays on tour. And anything that occurred after the Eurostar rolled out from the St Pancras platform should not be uttered here. But, on this occasion, a tantalising taster should be shared.
The match began with INSEAD lining up opposite us to sing their school song. Or something along those lines. My French is shocking enough that I didn’t understand it. Perhaps that was a good thing though, as I imagine they sang about their expected vanquishing of us.
How wrong they were. They may have come out strong at the start (or was that us playing weakly, still recovering our mojo after the previous night?) and they even had the first opportunity to score points with a penalty kick almost directly in front. But the boys from Baker St valiantly regained their composure and slowly but surely the gears of LBS rugby stirred into dominating action. The result? LBS 51 – INSEAD 7. A resounding victory!
Now, I must say, INSEAD were very gracious in defeat and we joined them that evening for a post match function in Fontainebleau. There’s always something special about sitting shoulder to shoulder with people you’ve just spent 80 minutes trying to tackle to the ground; it was great to actually converse with our MBA brethren there. And we’ll be looking forward to the rematch against the INSEAD lads when they travel past the white cliffs of Dover to do battle with us on our own turf early in the New Year.
It was on this optimistic note that we departed INSEAD for the cultured city of Paris, where we took delight in the pleasures of the Parisian nightlife. Or perhaps it was us who were entertaining the Parisians. By the early hours of the morning the French women were somewhat perplexed by these handsome lads roaming the streets in their navy blazers and straw hats, but they couldn’t get enough. And, so I’ve been told, more than one woman swooned in the presence of these men.
I will stop there before I say too much. Needless to say though, the next day, like the Duke of Wellington in victory at Waterloo, we returned triumphantly to Baker St with pride and success notched on our belts (and possibly elsewhere).