March 24 1946
Close, but the “Kiwis defeat France again.
- France, at the E. Wallon Stadium, Toulouse
When we were in Paris, we were told that the game at Toulouse would be against Southern France, comprised of young up-and-coming players, whom the French Rugby authorities wanted to try out. Imagine our surprise, then, when on arrival we found that, not only was the game advertised as an International against France, but also that we were to play against the same team—except four players—that we had played against in Paris. After the surfeit of travel we were a little dismayed; but there was nothing to do but go ahead with it. The ‘‘boys’’ felt that they had had one ‘‘put across’’ them, and made up their minds to become ‘‘interested’’ in Rugby again. It is as well they did—these Frenchmen are good, very good.
The ground was like concrete. ‘‘Any rain lately?’’ I asked an English-speaking official. ‘‘Oh, yes, we had some in August,” was the reply! They get rain only once or twice a year in Toulouse. We had our fun, though, by seeing the “curtain- raiser’’ to the ‘‘big’’ game. Two teams of youths were playing and we were greatly amused when on penalising a player in a ruck for handling, the Referee boxed his ears!! And he kept on doing it each time any player infringed. As the ‘‘Kiwis”’ were also going to play under a French Referee, they all were seriously considering wearing head-gear!!
Five players were ‘‘ordered-off” in the curtain-raiser, the first to go being the opposing hookers who didn’t let each other alone at any time of the game. They simply had to go off. They marked each other in the front of the line-out, and as soon as the ball left the wingers’ hands, these two ‘‘hooked’’ away at each other. The Referee got tired of boxing their ears so, to save himself a lot of bother, he sent them home. Our boys really enjoyed this spot of fun. If a player made a mistake, say kicked badly, he would drop to the ground, grab his ankle or knee and roll around in apparent agony. When the match ended, both victors and vanquished were collapsing in all parts of the field, to be helped off by their ‘‘admirers.’’ I’ve never laughed so much for ages. It was rare fun while it lasted.
But soon the time came to forget the funny things and settle down to the serious business of playing against an International, side. I don’t like becoming attached to a team when I have to sit and watch them play a hard game. It is alright when I’m broadcasting, because then I am able to be impartial and just talk about what is happening. I had no broadcast to do in Toulouse, however, and knowing that the ‘‘Kiwis’’ were nowhere near top form, and knowing the calibre of the French team, I was, frankly, uneasy. And I had reason to be. We knew France would get plenty of ball, because the hooker, Volot, had out- hooked us in Paris; in fact I think he was the best the ‘‘Kiwis’’ met. The backs were fast, and marvellous handlers, and players dropped very, very few passes, so we had to look to the rucks for ball for the backs. And they were good ruckers too, but so were the ‘‘Kiwis.’’
The French team “went for the doctor’’ from the word ‘‘go,’’ and were at the ‘‘Kiwis’’ line in the first minute. From a scrum in the corner on the ‘‘Kiwi’’ left wing the ball went from Bergougnan to Terreau. His pass to Sorrondo was low, and Dobson went right at Sorrondo. But the Frenchman took the ball on the half-volley and drop-kicked for goal. Yes, it went over—a scintillating goal—and the crowd went mad, because France was four points up in 1½ minutes of play. 0-4.
Scott missed a penalty after seven minutes, while France missed three comparatively easy ones at nine, 17 and 21 minutes. The pace was a cracker, and there, was some wonderful play, and still more wonderful defence by the two teams. Both sides had enough ball to be twenty points up, and it needed only a slip in defence for it to have happened. Scott took great care with a penalty 15 yards from touch and just outside the twenty-five after 33 minutes, and this time he made no mistake. 3-4. And that was the half-time score. Both sides were quite happy it was no higher either way.
Five minutes after the re-start, Junquas missed an easy penalty for France, and if the game had been a cracker in the first spell, it was now a “double-banger.” At 6½ minutes, from a scrum on the ‘‘Kiwi’’ twenty-five near the French right-wing, France hooked, and sheer speed in handling the ball on, coupled with great pace, saw the hack-row forward, Basquet, come in as ‘‘extra man’’ and score in the left-hand corner. The kick missed, and the French lead increased to 3-7.
From the kick-off, Finlay and Rhind got to the ball first and whipped it in to Allen about the French 10-yard line. A beautiful side-step cleared the way for him to ‘‘unload’’ to Nelson. Outside the twenty-five, Nelson handed on to Thornton, and he raised the dust with his speed as he raced on to give the ‘‘Kiwis’’ a much-needed try. Scott kicked the goal, and the ‘‘Kiwis’’ led for the first time. 8-7
It was a short-lived lead, however, for, from the kick-off, the French forwards caught the ‘‘Kiwis’’ napping, and Matheu scored just two minutes after Thornton’s effort. There was no goal and France led again. 8-10.
Not for long though. From the restart, France attacked again, but the “Kiwi” forwards, with Rhind and Bond leading, drove the Frenchmen to their twenty-five. France came back again, and looked very dangerous on their left wing, but on the New Zealand 10-yard line and five yards from the “Kiwi” right “touch,” Young intercepted a pass, and away went the big ‘‘Kiwi” forward like a wing-threequarter. He didn’t leave that touch-line until he reached the goal-line, and then he turned in to run behind the posts. It was a magnificent effort, and the French crowd gave Young a great hand. Scott kicked the goal to give the “Kiwis” the lead (13-10), and to bring his personal tally of points to 99 for the tour.
The final 25 minutes of play were packed with thrills, as first one side and then the other swept the length of the field, only to be thwarted in touching down. There were no more scores, but many “near-misses“. Stan Young’s try had saved the game, and it is one I’ll never forget. Yes the French can, certainly play Rugby football. Over £4,000 was taken at the gates.”
From “Broadcasting with the Kiwis” by Winston McCarthy. Pub. By Sporting Publications 1947. Pp. 94-96.