Emmanuel Macron never does anything by chance, so why did he allow himself to be filmed downing a beer in one on Saturday night? The clip, which has gone viral, has angered puritanical progressives. Green MP Sandrine Rousseau has branded Macron’s behaviour ‘toxic masculinity’.
The president of the French Republic slaked his thirst just before midnight in the dressing room of the Toulouse rugby team in the Stade de France. Toulouse had beaten La Rochelle to win the French rugby championship, an event at which Macron had been introduced to the players before kick-off. He ducked out of a similar invitation in April at the final of the French football cup, worried that the heckling would shake the stadium’s rafters. Evidently, he decided to bet on the bonhomie of rugby supporters.
There was a brief flurry of barracking when Macron emerged onto the pitch to shake hands with the two teams but it was more of the pantomime variety. Rugby in France is less bourgeois than it is in England but it is still a sport that embodies so-called conservative values: the values that Macron has been courting this year.
There was a particularly effusive handshake for the captain of the Toulouse team, Antoine Dupont, the world’s best player, who threw his support behind Macron in last year’s presidential election.
Though Macron won that battle, his party were hammered in the subsequent parliamentary elections and he has struggled to assert his authority since. In contrast, Marine Le Pen’s star continues to rise.
At the weekend, France’s principal Sunday paper, le Journal de Dimanche, devoted its first eight pages to the leader of the National Rally (NR), examining the reasons for her popularity. Forty-two per cent of the electorate have voted for her or one of her MPs, up from 30 per cent in 2017.