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23 May 2014
The McClure family of Wellington New Zealand have been friends of my family for 25 years. Wife Cindy and Husband Lance have two kids and they live in the suburb of Lower Hutt.
Lance has served in the New Zealand police force for all of his working life, rising to be a Senior constable. Several times he has been posted to the Solomon Islands to assist in the rebuild of that country after violent storm damage.
This year Lance sent me this touching and very sad story of rugby connection and also about the loss of one life in the recent floods.
From the Solomon Star Times: Electronic Edition 12 April 2014.
SATURDAY, 12 APRIL 2014 12:38
WHEN the Solomon Islands sent a rugby team to the Hong Kong 7s for the first time in 1983, one of the key players was Leonard Pugeva. But now 30 years later Leonard's family and the rugby community are mourning.
Leonard died in the raging torrents of the flashflood of the Matanikau river on Thursday last week and his body, and those of three of his grandchildren who drowned in the flooded river, will be taken to his home village of Tokengau in Bellona for burial today.
He took up rugby in 1971 and was 27 when he first represented Solomon Islands at Hong Kong according to historical records.
He had previously represented the country at the 1979 South Pacific Games and in 1980 at the Air Pacific Trophy competition.
Now at the age of 58 years, he is gone from among us.
This information paper comes from a member of the rugby community who was shocked to hear of his passing in such tragic circumstances.
Two of his children and a daughter-in-law and her brother survived the flood waters and were plucked from Point Cruz harbor by rescuers on boats.
Leonard's tragic story was played out in other families in Honiara last week and there are many others who lost mainly mothers and children.
He and his family had almost completed their family home on the bank of the Matanikau river near Vara creek where they operated a small canteen while he bought timber to complete the structure.
With his eldest son he was attending to the timber when the flashflood hit the canteen and then washed everyone downstream.
The house was then hit by debris and it collapsed into the river and floated downstream with two hundred pieces of 4 by 1 inch timber.
Leonard will long be remembered in the rugby community.
He went to Hong Kong twice and played for several years before retiring.
His second son Masunu became a national representative in both wrestling and rugby 7s.
His legacy to sport and to his family will live on.
He is survived by his wife Teisi, several children and several remaining grandchildren.
Teiti's people in Honiara and Wagina are also in mourning.
Fa’ako Liolea, another former rugby star, married Leonard's sister and was with the family most of the past week, and their rugby playing partner Joe Uilelea and his wife (Teiti's sister) sent condolences from Samoa where Joe is a Congregational Minister.
Others in their champion team of 1983 were John Bainivalu, Jared Beti, Tela Delaiverata, Warren Bao, Josaia Titia, Job Tuhaika and Bobby Ramo.
Most of them played at Hong Kong again in 1984.
The Australian team they faced included such names as David Campese and the Ella brothers
On this day New Zealand did beat USA 34-3 in Marcoussis, France but other results saw the Black Fern's great run at the previous four Rugby World Cups come to an end.
Racing Club de France, Chalon and France
43 internationals for France 1953–61
A stylish French fullback who became that country’s most-capped last line of defence, Michel Vannier was a gifted runner who was also blessed with a calm assurance. He played in three French teams which won the Five Nations Championship and was a member of the great French team which went to South Africa in 1958 and won the test series.
Vannier first came into the French international side in 1953 against Wales, in Paris. He had an unhappy day but held his place for the internationals of the next season. He steadily built up his tally of caps over the next five seasons. He was an excellent goal-kicker and had a sure touch with a drop-kick. In the end he totaled 175 points in international matches.
Vannier was most unfortunate that a serious knee injury forced him to miss the tests in South Africa in 1958. He missed all of 1959’s international matches but was back in 1960, a comeback that was highly acclaimed and popular with the rugby followers of France.
His last international was in Australia at the end of the French tour there and to New Zealand in 1961. His form on tour had not been as impressive as before, but his total of caps won had reached 43. The mark stood as a French record until the great Serge Blanco passed it in 1987.
When did an international rugby team play a full game and then travel to another country to play a second full game on the same day?