With President Nicolas Sarkozy cheering in the stands, more than 16 million fans glued to their television sets and players like "Caveman" Sebastien Chabal gaining star status: France has succumbed to rugby-mania.
Les Bleus are preparing to face England at the Stade de France near Paris on Saturday, riding a wave of enthusiasm after last week's win over New Zealand's All Blacks.
Some 16.6 million viewers in France watched Les Bleus knock out the rugby powerhouse -- an all-time record in France for a televised rugby match that is expected to be shattered on Saturday evening.
...."There is real passion. The stadiums are full. We are getting record television audiences. It's really extraordinary," said Alain Doucet, the general secretary of the French Rugby Federation.
Enrolment in rugby schools is up as legions of French children have discovered the sport during the World Cup that France is hosting until October 17, said Doucet.
Even Sarkozy, a long-distance runner and soccer fan, has been a willing cheerleader, travelling to Cardiff at the weekend to watch the match against New Zealand along with several members of government.