As The Cranberries’ classic Zombie caused metaphorical tremors across Paris following Ireland’s 13-8 Rugby World Cup victory over South Africa, it was hard to just stand there, take it in and not wish you had one of those teams as truly your own.
What unfolded at the Stade de France on Saturday wasn’t the “joue joue” rugby the iconic arena has become known for hosting, given its usual tenants are Les Bleus, but it was a monstrous clash of rugby titans; two sides refusing to give an inch both on and off the pitch.
There were reports of 30,000 Irish fans inside the 80,000 seater bowl, but that number felt like a drop in the ocean – South African support was sublime also.
Goosebumps for great occasion
From the Springbok singing as the sides emerged from the tunnel to impeccable renditions of both Ireland’s Call and Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika pre-match to the flawless delivery of The Fields of Athenry – an Irish classic – to Zombie, now synonymous with rugby on the Emerald Isle; it had it all.
These nations are rugby crazy but not without their complicated pasts. South Africa were barred from the first two Rugby World Cups – in 1987 and 1991 – due to a ban caused by Apartheid while the Irish team is a combination of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Maybe this has something to do with Saturday’s atmosphere, where the rugby was serenaded by audible beauty throughout 80 minutes of brutal, engrossing and, at times, desperate rugby union.
The Boks came with their class in the stands and their voices ready to blast out a tune, the men in the lighter shade of green came en masse with “ole ole ole” sitting ready to pounce at any moment.
Every penalty, knock-on and decision was cheered, jeered, celebrated and dismissed by fans in their droves, desperate to see their side win a game that in the grand scale of things might not matter.
Rugby World Cup classic
But it did matter. It mattered to every South Africa and Ireland fan lucky enough to have a golden ticket to what may have been the greatest Rugby World Cup pool match ever, and it mattered to everyone tuning in from afar.
And in those moments, that’s when you wish you had skin in the game; an Irish or South African auntie, grandparent, cousin, in-law. When you wish you had any excuse to really understand what it feels to be in a cauldron like the fiery affair on display on Saturday.
You crave partisanship in those moments and when The Cranberries belter rang around the Stade de France and you had goosebumps – a tear even – you cannot imagine what it must feel like to be truly in it; a part of that moment in history.
But through the match, with its flawed and flawless moments, one thing is for certain: those videos, photos and memories captured in a time capsule of that evening will be replayed again and again and again.
It was special, it was a classic, it was a moment.