March 10 1946

“Kiwis” win a thriller against France.

After 27 matches in the British Isles, many of them won in style, the “Kiwis” crossed the English Channel for matches in France and Germany. The first was against France, who provided formidable opposition.

Jim Sherratt - "Le Grand Cheval".

28th Match
v. France, at the Olympic Stadium, –
Colombes, Paris

We left London on Wednesday, 6th March, at 7 a.m. for Newhaven. The ship left at 10 a.m. and we arrived at Dieppe at 2 p.m. Oh, but it was cold. Paris we reached at 9 p.m., and we went straight to the Hotel Lutetia in Rue de Raspail. If this were not just a record of the matches the ‘‘Kiwis’’ played I could tell you how cold it was in Paris with the streets blanketed in snow; how we found in the- morning that it was not customary have breakfast in Paris; how we changed that custom, and oh,  of many things. The Tuillieres Gardens, La Place de la Concord —mass of lawns,  gardens, statues, fountains, trees and shrubs— about 300 yards wide and stretching for about two miles; and all this in the centre of the city! It is magnificent. However— the football.
We played France on Sunday, 10th March—my birthday. The ground had been swept of snow the day before, and it was in heaps behind the dead-ball lines and beyond the touch-lines. The French team was good—in many respects perhaps the best of the International sides. Good players, good handling, good tackling, really great cover-defence, and very fast. The backs just lack a straight move at first five-eighth, but they are very quick. at capitalising on mistakes. It was a very good game indeed.

There were nine changes in the team. Saxton lost the toss and the ‘‘Kiwis” played into a slight breeze from the north. The “Kiwis’’ went right into the attack, and after four minutes, Young and Bond went through from a line-out, but were recalled. Keeping at it, Saxton, at 15 minutes, sent Allen away inside the twenty-five; he was over in a flash, but the Referee ruled a forward pass. Three minutes later from a scrum in the centre of the French 10-yard line, Saxton sent to Allen who, cutting out Dobson, to fool the opposition, sent it straight to Smith. Sherratt got the ball, and five yards from the twenty-five kicked ahead after bumping his winger off. Sherratt ran outside the touch-line and raced the Frenchmen to the ball for a grand try. And did France rise to Sherratt. They gave him an almost embarrassing ovation—but ‘‘Jim’’ got used to it before he left France. Scott’s kick—a no-charge—made the score 5-0 after 18 minutes.

France now began to throw the ball around in some bewildering movements, and by hammering at the line simply had to score. Following a scrum in front of the “Kiwi’’ posts, the ball shot out to Pebeyre on the left-wing, and he crashed through to score ten yards from the corner. It was wonderful handling by the French team that made the score. Prat missed the kick. 5-3.

It was anybody’s game at this stage, but the ‘‘Kiwis’’ were next to score. Following an attack by Bond, Blake and Rhind, on New Zealand’s left-wing, a ruck developed half-way between the twenty-five and the French line. Boggs went into five-eighth, on to Allen, to Dobson, who cut across field to “make’’ a man. He handed on to Smith, who went within five yards of the corner: before giving the ball to Sherratt, who crashed over with two men diving at him. Down went the corner post. Was it a try? The Referee ran over to the touch-judge who said that neither Sherratt nor the ball touched the post. So Sherratt was awarded a classic try less than a foot from touch-in-goal. Scott missed  the kick, but Sherratt’s ovation made up for everything. “Le grand cheval” they called him—”the big horse.” 8-3 and 35. minutes had gone. The next five minutes were full of thrills, the ball going in all directions, but there was no further score to half-time.

France kicked off, and Smith started an attack from the kick which he took inside his twenty-five. The ball passed through 12 pairs of hands, and ended with a forward pass from Rhind to Woolley inside the French twenty-five. Such a move deserved a better fate. After ten minutes of play, France lost their great forward, Soro. He went to pick up a loose ball just as Rhind kicked at it. The impact broke Soro’s arm just above the wrist. Sore is a magnificent forward, big, strong, fast, a beautiful handler, a worthy International in rucks and .line-outs, and as good as any back. Three minutes later, France scored. The ‘‘Kiwis” attacked. from a scrum inside their twenty-five. It went from Saxton, to Allen, to Dobson; Dobson went to grubber- kick through, but the ball hit on his knee and went astray. The centre, Junquas, snapped it up and whipped it to his right wing Baladie, who scored in the corner. The kick missed. ‘‘Kiwis,” 8; France, 6.

France continued to attack, and the “Kiwis” had a torrid time on defence, but the tackling was grand. Baladie was nearly over again, but Boggs threw him into touch at the corner. From a scrum, following the line-out, France secured. The ball went at great pace through the backs to Pebeyre on the wing, and he went, across in the corner with Sherratt holding him. The kick again missed; and with 21 minutes gone, France led 9-8.

Five minutes later the “Kiwis” were in again. From a loose ruck on the French 10-yard line near the ‘‘Kiwi” right touch line, Blake kicked ahead and followed up. Alvarez, the full-back appeared to have ample time to pick up and clear but on the twenty-flve the ball rolled away from him. Blake was there, kicked ahead again and went on to score near the corner. Scott rnissed the kick, but the Kiwis” were ahead again, 11-9.

Play was really exciting now, and had France possessed a goal-kicker the home side might have won, for a couple of easy penalties were missed. With time up, however, Scott showed them how it should be done by kicking a fine goal, and the ‘Kiwis” had won 14-9.

Of course, many said the ‘‘Kiwis” were lucky to win. Anytime anyone says that to me, I have another look at the scores, and try to work it out. After all, it’s the points on the score-board that count—not might-have-beens. But it really was a thriller, and those Frenchmen know how to play entertaining rugby. Terreau, the fly-half, was worth going miles to see. How he would play with Bleddyn Williams outside him! Ooo-la-la!!”

From “Broadcasting with the Kiwis” by Winston McCarthy. Pub. By Sporting Publications 1947. Pp. 87-89.

A sidelight to the test.

 “Keith Arnold remembered that one of the important reasons why the Kiwis got on so well was that disparity in rank counted for nothing, and ‘none of us had any money anyway’.

However, as if to refute this statement, Simpson told of the Saturday before the French international when McPhail suggested he and Simpson should have a night on the town for the good reason that the two of them were not required to play the next day.

Hang on,’ said Simpson.’Me a private and you a captain?’

McPhail had the simple answer to that problem and loaned Simpson his spare uniform with three pips. So a very temporary Captain Simpson and Captain McPhail had a very memorable evening visiting officers’ clubs and nightspots in Paris! So Arnold was right.”

From “KHAKI ALL BLACKS” by Mike Whatman. Pub.2005 by Hodder, Moa, Beckett. P. 73.

The teams.