December 26  1926

Maori defeat France

In bitterly cold conditions and playing on a ground frozen hard, the New Zealand Maori team defeated France by 12 points to 3. The weather was no doubt the main reason the game was not as attractive as those played by the Maori in recent matches.

Bill Rika - try scorer.

“New Zealand Herald, February 10, 1927 TEST MATCH VICTORY (From our own correspondent) PARIS, Dec. 27

Twelve Points to Three Play on frozen ground

The Maoris completed their tour of France this afternoon, when they met and defeated the French International side at the Colombes Stadium, Paris, by 12 points to 3 points. The weather was bitterly cold but fine, and the ground was as hard as a brick in spite of the fact that it had been covered with straw to protect it from the ice and snow. The attendance was about 30,000.

Following on the brilliant Rugby played by the Maoris in the South of France the game was a disappointing one. There was a lack of dash and confidence, and both teams appeared to be suffering from stage fright. The handling of the backs was very poor, especially that of the Frenchmen. No doubt the weather had a lot to do with this, as the ground was dangerous, and players remarked after the match that their hands were dead with cold and that the ball was like a lump of lead.

The Maori backs opened shakily, but in the second spell played with good combination. They indulged in too much kicking, however, and, had the French backs been on their game, this may have led to the undoing of the Maoris. The game was played under International Board rules, and, consequently, the old kick into touch rule was in operation, and the players played the rule to the limit, thus detracting from the game from a spectacular point of view. The Maori forwards played a solid game, but lacked their usual dash in the open until late in the game. They were opposed to a strong pack, and honours were about even as far as the vanguards were concerned. The French backs, with the exception of Bader and Baillette, were weak, though Destarac played brilliantly in the first spell.

Referee Satisfies for Once

The referee, Mr W. H. Jackson, of Cambourne, Cornwall, gave complete satisfaction. This is the first, match I have seen in France in which the referee’s decisions were not disagreed with by the critical French public, and that says a lot for Mr Jackson’s work.

Barclay’s brilliant running and opportunism was the feature of the match and was reminscent of his great form in 1922 and 1923 in Australia. Falwasser’s try was a gem, twice he was grappled but threw off his opponents by sheer determination and once free he flew past Destarac by a good dodgy run.

Following the playing of the National Anthem and the Marseillaise, Haupapa came on and led the haka. Dashing play by the French forwards took play into Maori territory, but the Maori forwards relieved and Bell broke away and punted ahead, but Destarac beat Falwasser for the touch-down. Very uninteresting play followed, until, after 20 minutes’ play, a brilliant loose rush by the French forwards from half-way enabled Ribere to score. This livened up the Maoris, who set up a hot attack on the blue line. Barclay lost the ball close to the line, and then Bell hung on too long after a nice cut-in. A brilliant save by Destarac gave France some relief and play remained about even until the end of the quarter.

The first Maori score came just before half-time. Manihera broke away from the end of the line-out, and after throwing off two men sent the ball out to the backs, Barclay finishing off the movement by running round behind the posts. Matene missed an easy kick. Maoris 3, France 3.

The Second Spell

The Maoris had much the better of the second spell and scored in the first seven minutes, Falwasser making a fine run down the line to touch down in the corner. Matene found the kick too much.

Soon afterwards Bell opened up from loose play and Wi Neera cut in and punted ahead. Barclay followed up fast, but Destarac went down on the ball close to the line. The Maori forwards got possession, however, Rika scoring. Love failed from a good position. France seldom got to the black line, though on two occasions Villa missed the ball when a try in the corner seemed a certainty. Toward the end of the spell Barclay made the two runs referred to already, on the second occasion scoring in the corner. Matene again found the distance too great. Just before the final whistle the Frenchmen made a last effort, Jaureguy being forced out near the corner flag. The final score was, therefore, New Zealand Maoris 12 points, France 3 points.

V/sit to the Battlefields

While in Paris the Maori team paid an interesting visit to the battlefields. Leaving Paris at 8.30 they arrived at Rheirns at 10.30 and were taken in charabancs to the Cathedral, which was terribly damaged by German shell-fire. After seeing the Cathedral a run was made out of Rheims for an hour, the party returning to lunch at mid-day. After lunch the charabancs left Rheims in another direction, and short stops were made to allow the team to see Hill 108, which was blown up by mines, to visit a German “pill-box” on the Hindenburg Line, and to visit a small British cemetery. The countryside was covered with snow, and the journey was, consequently, very cold, but, nevertheless, the team enjoyed the trip. The party returned to Paris at 6.30 p.m.

Another interesting visit was that to the Palace of Versailles, where the Peace Treaty was signed by the Powers on June 28, 1919.

The teams.

From “Maori Rugby 1884-1979” by Arthur H Carman. Pub. 1980 by Sporting Publications. P. 226-227.