Friday, May 31, 2013

Last Practice Before the Southern Conference Title Game


Thursday night's practice was a really good one for the Falcons as it was both well attended and extremely intense.

We will need to play our best game to date in facing a Montrabé Comètes (10-0) team for the Southern Conference Championship. From what we have seen on video they are strong in all phases of the game.

Their Wing-T offense is a tough one to defend and to simulate in practice.

The most points that their defense has given up in a game is a paltry six!

Finally, their Special Teams are rock solid.

This should be a great game to watch!

The winner will host the French Division III National Championship Game on Sunday, June 9 against the Northern Conference Champion Tours Pionniers (9-0).

As you may recall, our Comètes game was originally scheduled to be contested last Sunday but the constant rain recently in the South of France made the Comètes' natural grass home field unplayable.

Our Falcons camp had great concern all of this week about the game's status this Sunday since the rains have continued this week in what has been called France's wettest Winter-Spring in over 50 years!

Glad we were here to experience it.

Concerns Unnecessary

Apparently, the Comètes' field is still a mess so the game has been moved to nearby Toulouse to the home field of the Division II Toulouse Ours (Bears).

As you can see in the picture above, it is a Field Turf surface so the wet weather will have no effect on the footing. I am not sure at all about the purpose of all of those lines and numbers on the field.

Our adventure on Sunday starts at 5:45 a.m. with a 5 1/2 hour, 340 miles bus trip to Toulouse for our scheduled 2:00 p.m. kickoff.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

End of the Junior's Season


Falcons Go Down Fighting!!!

After winning their first two playoff games on the road, the Falcons Junior team once again had to load up and drive, this time to Valence, to play the Sharks last Sunday.

Since Laurie and I were in Nantes scouting the Senior Northern Conference Championship game that day, we were not able to be there to encourage and support the Juniors.


Only eight teams in all of France were still alive in this originally 32 team playoff tournament and our Juniors were one of those eight.

I was told that it was a hard fought game that could have gone either way but unfortunately the Sharks took the victory in a wild one by a final tally of 44-26.

Head Coach Olivier Caldes and his staff did an amazing job with this group that was fun to work with all season long.

We were able to bring up two of the Junior linemen to the Senior team for this weeks Southern Conference Championship game. At practice last Tuesday night, both Mame Thiaw and Mehdi Camarasa proved that their training and hard work with the Juniors made for a smooth transition to the Senior team. They are both linemen and greatly improve our depth for the playoffs.

POP QUIZ TIME!!!

Roger Kelly, one of the most knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to all things about EuroBall, recently informed me that I needed to take the 30 question EuroBall quiz that had been posted on the EuroPlayers.com website.

After dragging my feet for over a week because of our recent trips to Barcelona, Normandy and Brittany, I finally took the quiz. I scored a mediocre 20 out of 30 but was honored to be a part of Question #17 which I somehow got correct!

Here is Question #17 with my answer included:


GAME DAY APPROACHES


We will have our final practice tonight in preparation for our very difficult game at Montrabé on Sunday against the #1 seeded, 10-0 Comètes.

We need a good one tonight to say the very least.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday in Lyon


This morning's four hour and 34 minute ride on the high speed TGV train from Nantes to Lyon was a delight. It was smooth and safe from start to finish and our car was, at best, only one third full.

The ONLY way to fly!

So to speak . . .

It was raining in Lyon when we got here.

The Wizard of Bron-Villeurbanne

Last Tuesday and Wednesday the powers that be that are in charge of our practice facility had a series of lines painted onto the "grass," for lack of a better term.

These lines turned our field into the makings of a rather large parking lot for big Pétanque tournament that is scheduled at our sports complex for the weekend of June 1 and 2.

Just when we were starting to feel good about ourselves and our 10-0 season, these same powers helped put us in our place and get our egos to fit inside of our helmets for another week.

We were informed by the sports board over the weekend that, even though we were preparing for our final week of practice before the Southern Conference Championship Game, mind you for the right to be crowned as the best team for one half of one of Europe's oldest sovereign countries, we would not be allowed to practice this week because they were afraid that we would mess up the lines.

You can't make this stuff up.

I am not exactly sure what WR Gaetan Tafa's official title is with the Falcons club, but I'm guessing Wizard. In the midst of all of this, he was able to quickly get the city to let us use the Field Turf field next to our game field which has been off limits to our Seniors all season.

GREAT JOB GAETAN!!!

Reading Is FUNdamental


Zafón is a master writer from Barcelona. This is the second of his Gothic novels set in his hometown that I have read.

He is a very interesting and mystical story maker indeed!

Monday, May 27, 2013

La Baule, France . . . A Day at an Atlantic Seacoast Beach Resort


Monday was our last day in Brittany before heading back to Lyon and our last practices before Sunday's Division III Southern Conference Championship Game.

We opted to drive about an hour Northwest to the Atlantic seacoast resort beach city of La Baule.

La Baule is a five mile long crescent shaped, white sand beach on what is called the Côte d'Amour or Coast of Love.

It is one of the Atlantic coast's most fashionable resorts.

We were ready to blend in with the natives.

 A Main Intersection

 Love Witch Hats

Home of one of the Top Five
Pain Chocolates in France

Looking North on the Côte d'Amour

 And Looking South

Walking IN, Not ON Water

We see these same two guys sitting
and talking everywhere we go in France

Laurie enjoyed the Sun

So did I

Hungry

Good Spot for Lunch

Laurie LOVES Horses

Atlantic Ocean Storm Surf

Driving back to Nantes
using an alternate/scenic route

Support

 OK, it is Official
We're LOST!

Driving these peaceful French
country roads was our reward

 Back in Nantes we were reminded
that today is Memorial Day in the USA

 Nantes Rooftops outside our
hotel room window

Time for dinner.

 Cuba Libres First

They do not cheat you on the Cidre
at the Crêperie Ste Croix

Great crepes too!

What the duck?

We've got to get a moat!

We really enjoyed our weekend in Normandy and Brittany. These are two great and historical areas of beautiful France that you really should visit.



A quick look at how the rest of our French Division III season is shaping up with only two games remaining on the 2012-13 schedule.

Northern Conference Championship Game Result
#2 Tours (9-0) 28 - #1 St-Herblain (10-1) 6

Southern Conference Championship Game
Sunday, June 2, 2013
#2 Bron-Villeurbane Falcons (10-0) at
#1 Montrabé Comètes (10-0)

Silver Helmet Division III French
National Championship Game
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Northern Conference Champion
Tours Pionniers (9-0) at
Southern Conference Champion
To Be Determined

Scouting the Northern Conference Championship Game in Nantes


Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day in Brittany as the Sun was magnificent over the city of Nantes.

Time for Adventure. 

We opted to first explore the Château des Ducs de Bretagne which was located only 50 meters from our hotel.

Duchess Anne is VERY popular in Nantes

Monument to Veterans

We Stand on Guard

Good day to read in the Sun
by a Moat

The Château was constructed in the 9th or 10th century and expanded in the 13th century. It would be destroyed and eventually re-built in its present form by François II in 1446.

François II daughter, the popular Anne de Bretagne, continued the work in the years to come.

The infamous Duchess du Berry and the notorious mass murderer Gilles de Retz, a.k.a., "Bluebeard" were both imprisoned here.

Fortification

Walled Up Window

The Mandatory Moat

Queen Laurie of Camarillo and
Duchess Anne de Bretagne

Moat Reflection

That's Grate!

Ornate Well

Ornate Wall

Weathered

An Apparition

Witch Hats are alway a treat

An Exhibition covering
WWI and WWII

In 2014 we will mark the 100th Anniversary of the start of World War I.

Although I have seen many markers and memorials for the World War I fallen from individual towns and cites, I can't recall any large WWI exhibits or museums in my five years of living abroad.

This exhibit in the Château would change that with its very insightful showing of what happened in Nantes during the 20th century's two World Wars.

First, World War I . . .

French Good vs. German Evil

Guilt Trip

I never thought about it in these terms but the exhibit pointed out that the entire media psychology behind any country's war bonds drives is to make those still at home pay up to relieve their guilt at not actually being in the fighting.

Interesting point of view.

The Angels in White
as the nurses were known

Wheel Chair for War Amputees

WWI Prosthetic Leg

Protect the Kids

Thank You from France

The Anthems of all of France's
Allies in WWI

WWI War Crimes

Not the Movie

Post-WWI Vases made from Shell Casings

WWII

Trying to win over the French People

Nazi Silverware

The French Hero of WWI
Not So Much in WWII

People from Nantes were deported
to the Death Camps

Torture by Head Vice

Nazi Pins

Allies Arrive!!!

Good Bye Collaborators

Well, the Sun was shining,
it was truly a GREAT day for an
American football game!

We found the right stadium thanks
to the Google Maps App on my iPhone

Finding the game field in this HUGE sports complex was not so easy. A major gymnastics competition was going on in the gym as we entered the complex. We opted to ask at the snack bar if anyone knew where the American football game was being played.

The man behind the counter said yes, in fact he had played American football in Reno at the University of Nevada after playing for several years in France. He happily abandoned the snack bar to personally lead us on the five minute walk to the Promised Land.

Small world.

Northern Conference
Championship Game

#2 Seed Tours Pionniers (8-0)
at
#1 Seed St-Herblain Dockers (10-0)


Because of the one week postponement of our Southern Conference Championship Game because of unplayable field conditions in Toulouse where our game was scheduled to be played on Sunday, we made this last minute trip to video scout the team that would earn the first slot in the French Division III National Championship Game on June 9th.

Dockers in Red

No Stands on the Visiting Side

Only Two Short Rows of Stands
on the Home Side

The Field Turf was a nice touch though. The American football lines are in a hard to see blue, that is why they needed the little cones on the sidelines every five yards to help players and refs know where the out of bounds lines were located.

I opted to film from the end zone

Pionniers on Offense

The Pionniers first drive was impressive

Lots of Misdirection led to a 7-0 lead

Guards Pulling

QB/HB Faking

COUNTER!!!

Block That Punt!

Fast Game


In a great display of Old School toughness, the game did not stop once for a player being down, thus the Medics never came on the field.

The fact that both teams were heavily run oriented moved things along as well.

At the intermission it was still Pionniers 7 - Dockers 0, but you felt as if the men from Tours were in total control.

Getting Salty

Pionniers Defensive Line Brings It

Rock 'Em - Sock 'Em

Down 14-0 in the Fourth Quarter,
the Dockers start to air it out

Tours DBs were up to the task

Dockers Rocket Screen

Pass Mode

BIG interception that led to a 21-0
Tours lead in the Fourth Quarter

WORKHORSE!


The Pionniers' Fullback, #42, is a STUD!!!

I've got to get me a
good pair of Coaching Gloves

One Last TD


The #2 seeded Tours Pionniers (9-0) will play for the National Championship on June 9th based on their well deserved 28-6 win over the #1 seeded St-Herblain Dockers (10-1).

As I understand it the National Championship Game will be played at the home of the Southern Conference Champion.

Stay tuned . . .

It was only 3:45 p.m. as the game was a quick one as I said because of the running game and no injuries.

Time to explore Nantes some more.

Tour Le Lieu Unique


This very artsy old biscuit factory is now a venue for art shows, bars, restaurants and chic boutiques.

Close Up of Tour Le Lieu Unique

We ate a good late supper here
on Saturday night

Our L' Hôtel


Great location with short walks to every sight in Nantes.

Cathédrale St-Pierre

I like it!

Religious Art

Impressive Cross

St-Sebastian


He was always willing to take one for the team.

Trying to lure Ian Murphy
back to the Church

How did they do this?

That is a statue on the tomb of the Duc of Bretagne François II's second wife, Marguerite de Foix.

Also by their shared tomb


Their are four statues at each of the four corners of the tomb. They are all of women representing Prudence, Temperance, Strength and Justice.

I'm not sure which one this one is depicting but the back of her head was worrisome . . .

. . . See Why?

Another of the Four Ladies

Thankfully, she only had one face.

Nice Ceiling Art

You had to put the rooster
in there didn't you?


Can't we all just get along?

"You know, I'm thinking of
quitting the Church and starting a string
of boulangeries all over France."

Old Cathédrale Door

Refreshing Fountain on Place Royal

Hey Lady, this isn't a beach in France!

Comfort Food

Aromas

Possible dinner but not open yet

Get that out of your mouth!

Fashion Model
at Passage Pommeraye

Don't Play With Knives Kids!!!

CHOCOLATE!!!


We were strong and did not add to our already impressive stash.

Forks

What the . . .

Typical Sunday Bar Scene

Not Straight


Just for you Brian FitzGerald.

I am SO HAPPY that mustaches
are all the rage again!!!

Nantes was very nice today. We will remain here one more day before heading back to Lyon on Tuesday.

We plan on going the the Atlantis Ocean resort city of La Baule on Monday. They say that it is beautiful. Hope that the weather cooperates!