World Rugby have begun live-streaming classic men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup matches to fill the rugby void for fans created by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The free-to-access streaming on the Rugby World Cup Facebook page kicked off with the RWC 1991 quarter-final between France and England.

Twenty-nine years later, one of the participants that day, Brian Moore, has been giving a brilliant blow by blow account of the match on Twitter as he re-watched it.

Moore, the starting English hooker, said the atmosphere at the game was one of the most intense he had ever experienced.

“The face off in the tunnel heightened the tension further as in those days teams never faced each other like this. It was always away side first followed by home side. The glaring and muttering was very hostile.”

“I looked down the French lineup and saw some on the verge of tears with pent up emotion. Never, before or after had I felt an atmosphere of malevolence like it.”

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“When the French got running and the crowd bayed it was impossible to hear anything. As all comms have said – ‘never experienced tension like it.'”

Moore also revealed some of the English tactics that day, and how they planned to target French maestro Serge Blanco. “It was a plan to test Blanco and he didn’t like getting rucked. In those days refs didn’t always call the mark and you couldn’t hear it so Heslop was entitled to challenge. Punches from Blanco and Champ would be red today.”

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“The plan was to tighten and tighten the game and force France to play. Then tackle and pressure and see them implode.”

Moore also pinpointed a scrum in which he recalls being eye-gouged. It’s unlikely that any Frenchman will be cited, however, as nearly three decades have passed since the incident.

Moore played against French backrow Mark Cecillon that day. Fifteen years after the match Cecillon shot his wife dead in front of 60 people at a party in Saint Savin in France. He was originally sentenced to 20 years in prison, which was reduced to 14 on appeal. He was released early from prison after serving just seven years.

The streaming has given modern-day fans a taste of rugby back in the ‘good old’ days. Many fans have been taken aback by the speed of the scrums.

“See how quick the scrums were in those days. 20 seconds from whistle to ball out after the strike. Another difference – then you just got on with it – today there would have been players surrounding the referee making square signs. And not every scrum that didn’t complete was a penalty.”

“See how low the front rows are without collapsing – that is due to feet not being parallel for the props – able to scrummage much lower than now.”

Moore didn’t have too much sympathy for teammate Rob Andrew, who was being targeted by the French. “Another red today for Sella – we sympathised because Rob deserved what he got.”

The behaviour of players has also changed, as noted by the no-nonsense frontrow turned commentator.

While we’re all living in very strange and frightening times, the internet throwing up light entertainment gems like this is a blessing.

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