July 15 1961

“Les tricolores” well beaten by Waikato.

The 1961 French team had started their tour with a comfortable win over a combined team in Nelson, then struggled to an 11 – 9 victory over Taranaki. Their 3rd match was against Waikato, a strong team with some big name players.



Ian Clarke - Waikato captain.

“From New Plymouth the tourists moved on to Hamilton for a Saturday match against Waikato, one of New Zealand’s strongest unions in 1961. On the day before the game the Frenchmen celebrated Bastille Day at the Cambridge home of Mr and Mrs A.B. Baker. Mrs Baker was a Frenchwoman who had served with great distinction during World War 2 before marrying a New Zealander. The “Marsellaise” was played as the tricolour was broken out from a flagstaff provided by the Cambridge Boy Scout troop.

Although it was generally expected that Waikato would be stern opposition for the visitors, few would have predicted the sweeping victory recorded by the home team. There were only two tries in Waikato’s total, but Don Clarke’s boot did the rest and France crashed to a humiliating 22-3 defeat.

Besides Don and Ian Clarke, Waikato fielded All Blacks in ‘Red’ Conway and Rex Pickering, and New Zealand Maori representative Joe Porima. A third Clarke brother, Brian, was also in the home team.

The ground was soft in places from recent rain when the game began in overcast weather before a crowd of 30,000.
Eight minutes after the start Don Clarke goaled from a 30-yard penalty following a lineout infringement, and repeated the process six minutes later from a similar distance after the visitors had again been penalised in a lineout.

Vannier was on target with a penalty kick eight yards in from touch and five yards outside the Waikato 25, and the gap was closed to three points. However, Clarke goaled again when Calvo was ruled offside following a high kick by Guy Camberabero. With seven minutes to go to halftime, Kemp cut through the defence and unloaded to Fausett. who timed his pass to Blackburn to perfection. The wing ran round Dupuy to score in the corner and Clarke converted to make the score 14-3 at the interval.

There was no scoring in the second half until 10 minutes from time when Moncla was penalised for a breach of the tackled-ball law. Clarke kicked a superb goal from 50 yards and the result was now beyond doubt. In the closing stages the Waikato fullback put a long kick down to Vannier, who was under pressure as he passed to Bouquet. The French centre was tackled by Wood, Witters kicked through and Brian Clarke picked up and handed on to Blackburn, who scored near the flag. Don Clarke converted and a 22-3 rout of the Frenchmen was completed.

Waikato clearly deserved to win and every member of the team played well. The stars of the rearguard were Don Clarke, Blackburn, Kemp and Cathro, while of tho forwards, Ian Clarke stood out for his fine leadership. O’Kane played magnificently, and there was some good lineout work from Brian Clarke. Pickering had one of his better games.

The French centres, Andre Boniface and Bouquet, showed they were players of class, and Lilian Camberabero sent out some excellent passes in spite of the drubbing he received from the Waikato forwards. In the circumstances this tiny halfback did very well but he was not given another game on tour although he subsequently played 13 tests for France. Vidal and Lefevre were the best of the forwards.”

“The Visitors” R H Chester & N A C McMillan, Moa Publications, pub. 1990 p.356.

The teams.