Thanks for that Peter.
John, Lague is alive and kicking in the southern half of the country though it has very much lived in the shadow of Union ever since being banned by the Vichy government due to it being thought of as a disruptive 'Socialist' game which could only corrupt the youth ! The assetts were stripped and the game died. There are now about 30000 plus people playing in France. The Catalan Dragons from Perpignan play in the English Super League and t Toulouse have just been admitted into the English Third Division.The RL heartland is probably considered to be south of a line from Bordeaux diagonally over to Montpellier though there are teams from Lyon,Avignon and the Vaucluse et al.playing in the local leagues.
There are a few Eddie Waring type caricatures around though the phrase "...avec la chandelle" doesn't quite have the same catchiness as "oop and oonder" !!
here is one that is dear to my heart. i started playing the noble game at the age of fourteen and finished in my fifty-second year. Yes, a little achy in certain parts of the body on the cold February mornings here in the Gers but i would not of missed one day of it given my time again. the bond between rugby players is absolutely immense, almost akin to that experienced by ex-service people (i am ex-Royal Navy for my sins). Just before i finished playing Rugby, Union by the way, i was "directed"/conned into having a look at the the under 8's at our club, PLymstock RFC, who in need of some experienced player to help out two struggling, but very committed, fathers. That was it! the next ten years of my life were given over to being a coach, kit carrier, taxi service, nurse, manager, tackle bag and carer for a wild group of twenty-plus aspiring Jonny Wilkinsons. As when i played i had the full support of the memsahib who in turn became a stand-in mother tp the team, especially in the early days. To this day, twenty years down the line, i still have vivid memories of the sleeves of my tracksuit top being wet from the elbows down. Rugby players crying!!!!Never. the main thing i learnt was that no matter the size of the young player or how good the father had been the player his or herself have got to want to come along and become involved. Our drop out was negligable, two in ten years, so we must have been doing something right. the other coaches always said that as we never had children of our own we had a "keener" edge/approach. Maybe so, but all i know is the bond is still between us now, even though most of them tower over us now, and when we are home we drop in for a drink with them. On the park we were very sucessfull, Devon champions at fifteen and seven aside over many years and we even put three into England under 16 shirts of one kind or another. All, however, was not always tea and biscuits as we had to deal with a minority of parents who thought that our coaching methods were all wrong but did not offer to come forward and assist in any way and the worst kind, the RTP's. these are "raging touchline parents" who can be seen at most clubs screaming at the referee, their offspring or anyone. luckily we sorted ours out by way of a quiet word in the bar afterwards. Sorry to ramble on a bit but those ten years were the most rewarding of my rugby career and i still miss it all tremenously. I did venture along to our local side to offer my services but all i received was a look up and down and the comment "your English?".to be honest i just could not be bothered to argue my case. Must go as i have various chores to attend to before sitting down to watch the opening rounds of the six nations. Just think, there will buses full of players and beer travelling up and down motorways as we speak! Enjoy.
League!!! I didn’t even know they played it in France. Is there an Eddie Waring equivalent? Just got tickets for the France vs. Ireland match in Paris. TGV here I come.
Nice article! Our wee one has recently joined the local kiddie rugby club (Limoux) and loves it. The next question is Union or League?! Where we live it depends which village you choose...some are traditionally XIII and some are traditionally XV. We just went for the nearest! Talking about rugby sevens with the other parents on the touchline though just completely confuses them.
Soccer is for overpaid, diving wimps and followed by couch potato droids Catherine. You have done the right thing
Hmm, seriously, for starters the ball is shaped differently…and what is it they say football is a gentlemen’s game played by hooligans, rugby is a hooligan game played by gentlemen…
I like this article Catharine,It is close to my heart as I am Welsh I would like my son to start playing rugby with a team as soon as possable,he is in French terms a big four years old and we live in Deux Sevres nr Bressuire and I think the nearest club is half an hour away in Parthenay (and if anyone knows about this club or one closer would be nice ),The first ball he kicked and caught was a rugby ball but he does enjoy playing football with his cousins but for me rugby would be first choise,athough I have always seaid whatever his choise I would support it,He was born in England has a French mother and a Welsh farther so I recon he could play Rugby for Wales,football for France or hairdressing for England what ever he likes ,good luck with your son my mother used to cringe when I came home from rugby as a small boy so proud and showing her my big new bruises,lumps and bumps
Our local Irish pub (Louise Gordet is an SFN member) is run by a French husband and Irish wife and is a nest of rugby. Mention church and Sunday and one is touching on the blasphemy of not turning up for rugby practice, which I must also say the soccer players are doing in their stadium nearby. The bells peal, the four usual elderly ladies who are out more for the social event than the rather late in the day soul saving exercise give the Abbé his congregation. Roll on a decent funeral thinks he (I suspect). My judo participant daughters have no ambition to join girls' rugby or foot teams because judo competitions take up entire Sundays and also practises overlap. My older daughter who was picked up at something like eight months and promptly blessed by the Cardinal of Bologna and whose great-uncle is an emeritus bishop has never been in a church except to look at what is in there tourist-like and the younger got interested in Buddhism (do not ask how) when she was two and would not dream of trying a Christian ceremony. As for rugby, when I am engrossed in a game, especially when Scotland are customarily getting a good hiding, they wonder what on earth I am doing. Is it, perhaps, praying to the little oval ball to go to the right place in the hands of or from the foot of a member of my own 'holy' side? As for the exhaltations when they do get a try, there we can develop a whole new religious theme.
Great article Catharine! We are in the RCT (Toulon) St. Johnny catchment here in Aups, where rugby is equally popular, both with us and everybody else. There is a RCT bar in the village, with many photos of the heroes, together with Ludo, the owner of the bar. I still haven't achieved St. J's autograph, despite many efforts..