June 21 1989

France too strong for Seddon Shield Districts.

Game five, against Seddon Shield Districts in Blenheim, appeared the easiest on the 1989 eight match French tour of New Zealand.  And so it proved, the French winning well 39 – 13.

 The combined team, coached by All Black selector Lane Penn, was nevertheless able to contribute to a bright entertaining game played in fine weather on Lansdowne Park.

“Marlborough, Nelson Bays, Buller and West Coast, collectively known as the Seddon Shield Districts, were the tourists’ next opponents. For this match no West Coast players were selected, the bulk of the team coming from Marlborough.

As expected, France won easily and the game gave the opportunity to some of the younger tourists to distinguish themselves. Three of these, wing Pierre Hontas, lock Olivier Roumat and flanker Jean-Francois Tordo, played especially well, giving notice that they would be worthy successors to players who must soon bow out of international rugby.

The home team contained four men, Ian Stark, Andrew Slee, Frank Marfell and Paul Nicholson, who had toured with the New Zealand Divisional XV in 1988. All Black selector Lane Penn coached the side which, although well beaten, was by no means disgraced.

The ground at Lansdowne Park was in good condition and the weather was fine, but the 8000 spectators only half- filled the park. Those who did attend saw a bright, entertaining game, although the offside tactics of the visitors led to frequent awarding of penalties, which slowed down proceedings.

Hontas scored after six minutes from a passing movement, Lescure missing the conversion. A 40-metre penalty goal by Stark put the home team on the board after 13 minutes, but France went further ahead when Lescure sent over a dropped goal. The visitors scored again when Chabowski crossed after the French forwards had driven to the line from a tap penalty. Lescure goaled. Another rush by the visiting forwards ended in a try to Beraud, which Lescure converted. The home team then set up an attacking movement from which Boyd scored an unconverted try wide out, and halftime came with the tourists leading by 19-7.

Offside play by France gave Stark a shot at goal from 39 metres and he made no mistake, closing the gap to nine points after six minutes of the second half. Hontas then scored his second try, showing a clean pair of heels to the cover defence. A few minutes later the speedy French wing was over again after a back movement following a ruck. Lescure converted the first try but found the angle too wide for his second attempt.

A high tackle on Phillips by Tordo was penalised and Stark goaled from 34 metres. Four minutes later the visitors were awarded a penalty try which Lescure converted. With a minute to play, Sanz completed a movement, begun by Mesnel at halfway, with a try that Lescure failed to convert, making the final score 39-13.

The speed of the French rearguard proved rather too much for the home backs, but Boyd, Stark and Slee all played well. Frank Marfell and Nicholson had fine games in the home pack, as did replacement Glen Elley.

Hontas was the visitors’ outstanding back, with Andrieu and Sanz also prominent. Roumat, Tordo and Carminati were the most impressive of the French forwards.”

From “The Visitors” R H Chester & N A C McMillan, Moa Publications, pub. 1990 Pp.651-652.