The Entente Cordiale takes on a black-and-gold hue this weekend when Wasps host La Rochelle for the first time in front of two special guests.
The Entente Cordiale takes on a black-and-gold hue this weekend when Wasps host La Rochelle for the first time.
This is because French honorary consul Robert Mille will grace the Ricoh Arena, after being invited to Wasps’ European Champions Cup clash against the Top 14 leaders on Sunday (kick-off 1pm).
And he will be joined in the boardroom on match day by former France captain and Wasps back-rower Serge Betsen, who made 63 appearances for his country between 1997 and 2007.
Mr Mille, originally from Monaco, has been the French honorary consul for Birmingham and the wider Midlands since the post was formed in 2007, and helps up to 6,000 Midlands-based French citizens per year.
His role covers a range of activities from offering assistance with passports through to maintaining healthy relations between the two countries. More recently, Robert has also handed out the prestigious French Legion d’Honneur to British soldiers on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Neal Coupland, head of marketing at Wasps, said: “This is a big game for both sides, and we wanted to make sure both teams are evenly matched not just on the pitch, but off it too.
“The English love to get one over the French and vice versa, so having Serge and Robert present should bring some added spice.
“It’s currently one-nil to France following last weekend’s result, and we’re looking for as many people as possible to get behind the team as we seek a crucial win.”
The Gallic flavour extends to the Wasps Nest Fan Village, where French wine tasting, performances from mime artists and the French can-can take place from 11.30am.
Robert, 67, added: “This will be the first ever rugby game that I have been to, so I have been putting in the hours trying to learn the laws!
“There is a sizeable contingent of French citizens living in Coventry, Birmingham and Leicester, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a good number of vocal French supporters in the crowd.
“It was a nice gesture by Wasps to invite me along to this game, but hopefully La Rochelle can claim the win and do France proud.”
Tickets for Wasps vs La Rochelle are available from www.wasps.co.uk starting from £22 for adults, while under-10s go free in certain areas.