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View Full Version : France suffer on and off the field in South Africa



feicarsinn
03-08-08, 11:28 PM
Four days after the first test, France were to face Western Province, Boland and South West District in Wellington.

By now the French team were a motley looking crew with injuries and fatigue plaguing the squad – as a result they were on the end of a demoralising 38-8 defeat and were outscored five tries to one.

The only positive news to come from the game was the fact that they escaped with no further injuries.

After six games, the tourists had notched two victories and two draws and been on the wrong side of a defeat twice. The last four games would therefore define whether the first tour of one of the three southern hemisphere giants would be a success or failure.

And the result of their next match did not bode well with the Junior Springboks edging them out 9-5 the following weekend in Port Elizabeth.

The heavy rain didn’t help the French backs when they tried to execute the moves inspired by Roger Martine and his know-how from the famous Lourdes back rows.

Thanks to the reports relayed back home to France by Denis Lalanne, the expectations were starting to grow on home soil, espcecially since the battling 1st Test draw in Cape Town.

All of his articles would later be compiled into a book released in early 1959, entitled “Le Grand combat du XV de France” (The great battle of the French XV), the first ever French sports book to become a best-seller, and still in print today.

Those fans who were eagerly reading the reports, in L’Equipe or Midi Olympique, had started to get the impression that something big was happening in South Africa and so two defeats in a row served to halt this momentum.

Off the field there was also trouble with a row brewing between French officials and the referees about the increase in late tackles – one that would offer a new perspective to the last three games of the tour.

Captain Lucien Mias attempted to diffuse the tension by insisting that even if the South African players were tough and physical, at least they were not as brutal as some players that could be found in French rugby.

This diplomatic contribution from Mias was enough to quell the fire before it became a “political incident”.