Wales’ rugby team, freshly arrived in Versailles ahead of the upcoming World Cup, embraced the local culture with a warm welcome ceremony that showcased their appreciation for their French hosts. The event was a delightful mix of rugby spirit and cultural exchange as the players and management received their World Cup caps on Sunday evening.
The evening began with a series of speeches and the distribution of caps, setting the stage for a memorable gesture. In a touching display of unity, the Welsh team treated the locals to a heartfelt rendition of the Welsh hymn “Calon Lan,” led by prop Corey Domachowski.
However, the standout moment of the evening belonged to Dan Biggar, the talented fly-half who has recently plied his trade in France with Toulon. Biggar surprised everyone with his impressive fluency in French, a testament to his dedication to learning the language since his move across the Channel last year.
As the ceremony unfolded, Biggar made some last-minute adjustments to his speech, borrowing a pen from the Welsh press pack. Taking to the microphone, he expressed his gratitude, saying, “Firstly, it’s a big honour for everyone to be here tonight. It’s a big honour for every player to play in the World Cup. It’s why tonight is really, really special for everyone, so we want to say thank you for everything, and for tonight we are grateful.”
Continuing his address, Biggar conveyed his excitement for the upcoming World Cup, sharing his admiration for France as a host nation. He remarked, “I think this World Cup will be incredible. I’ve told everyone that France is a special place. There are great stadiums, beautiful cities, the people are lovely, very special – for me, the French are very similar to the Welsh.”
Reflecting on the nerve-wracking experience of delivering his speech, Biggar admitted, “(It was) Pretty nerve-wracking, especially because I haven’t been in France for a few months now. It was a little bit rusty. In France, it’s really nice to show a little bit of willingness. The people here put on a brilliant show for us, so it was nice to give a little bit back in their language. I’m sure my French teacher will correct me on a few bits and pieces, but hopefully, it went down okay.”
When asked about their musical performance, Biggar humorously revealed, “Not a huge amount, if I’m honest. Corey Domachowski has been in charge; we’ve had a couple of sessions before training, but not a huge amount. So yeah, like I said, hopefully we play better than we sing.”
Addressing any external help received, he added, “Nothing like that, no, we’ve done it all ourselves. We managed to just about blag it.”