Zombie wasn't the only banger the Irish team belted out after victory over South Africa
"I have never seen anything like it... the Irish are singing, dancing. It's as if they've won a World Cup."
Jill Douglas and Bryan Habana were standing pitch-side at Stade de France, on Saturday night, as scenes of jubilation and bedlam unfolded, near and far. There was Zombie, Fields of Athenry and a newcomer (from 1978) into the charts.
Out on the pitch, Peter O'Mahony led his victorious Ireland teammates around and was the orchestra conductor for a couple of post-match bangers. In the stands, the Irish supporters partied it up and sang themselves hoarse. Douglas and the Springbok legend, working the World Cup for ITV, joked that staff in the stadium would be doing well to clear the place before the next game - Ireland vs. Scotland on October 7th.
While much of the focus before and after the game has been on how The Cranberries' stonker 'Zombie' has been adopted by the travelling Irish fans, there was another song belted out that has gone under the radar. It is a wedding dance-floor classic but it is one that gave one of the song's creators pause for thought.
A little bit of Zombie, a little bit of Queen
With TV cameras beaming back pictures of uproarious scenes from Stade de France, for those of us not fortunate enough to be at the stadium, Jill Douglas and Bryan Habana were in awe of the party atmosphere.
"I’ve never ever seen a crowd like that," Johnny Sexton would later say. "Someone said there were 30,000 [Irish fans], but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were 60,000. They probably save for four years to come here. We play for them and they gave us the edge tonight."
Down pitch-side, Habana was stung by the loss but accepted that Ireland were deserving winners. The 2007 World Cup winner remarked:
"100% they've got to enjoy it. I look at Peter O'Mahony, out there enjoying himself, singing along to 'Don't Stop Me Now'. It was bellowing out, across the stadium and fans singing at the top of their voices.
"There are moments like that, as a rugby player, that you never ever forget. Experiences like this that are priceless and unforgettable. Hats off to Ireland, they played for the full 80 and were highly physical and committed."
That is correct - while half the nation is well on-board the Zombie bandwagon and another bunch are getting all hot and bothered about it [and another clutch are cribbing about Celtic Symphony], the Irish were rocking out to a Queen jam.
— Matt Hardy (@MattHardyJourno) September 24, 2023
Written by the late Freddie Mercury, the Queen frontman, in 1978 and released as a single the following year, it was a song the band's guitarist Brian May struggled with as being too hedonistic in its' lyrics.
May himself would comment, "I thought it was a lot of fun, but I did have an undercurrent feeling of, 'Aren't we talking about danger here,' because we were worried about Freddie at this point."
Yes, it may be a floor-filler at many weddings and parties for decades, but how long before the pearl-clutching brigade latch onto lyrics such as this:
I'm a rocket ship on my way to Mars on a collision courseI am a satellite I'm out of control I am a sex machine ready to reload like an atom bomb About to oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, explode
Spicy stuff, indeed. One hopes we are not reading about this controversial song choice for the rest of the World Cup, too.
Saying that, we could all do with giving The Cranberries a break for a while.
Why is no-one talking about Freddie 'leaping through the air like a tiger'? Probably because it is just a song with a high tempo, a great chorus and gets people moving.
Back in Paris and both Jill and Bryan were still shouting at each other amid the din of Zombie and Don't Stop Me Now.
"Ireland weren't as clinical as we know this Irish team to be, but they found a way to win," reflected Habana. "Previous Irish teams would not have found a way to win, especially against combative sides like these Springboks.
"You've got to take your hat off to what Johnny Sexton and his boys have done. You could feel that tide turning, That tide might be here for the next five weeks, Jill!"
There is a lot of singing to be done yet.
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