Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
6 May 2015
One of the key reasons for my tour to Europe and North America this year was to visit and pay homage to World War I battlefields and to the rugbymen who died there. We did that for sure, but not before meeting our guide and having lunch at a very appropriate place for New Zealand war watchers in Belgium.
The name Passchendaele means so much to New Zealanders in its WWI war history. It is a sleepy little town these days but back 100 years ago the village was the scene of some of the fiercest and bloodiest battles fought by the New Zealand soldiers against the Germans. The little cafe in this photo was doing a steady trade when we visited. On its walls was appropriate memorabilia for sale.
You will also notice I was nicely decked out in a New Zealand 'Flanders Field MMXV' shirt. Designed and produced by 'Mr Robyn of Dollar.'
A hotel ruckus after NZ had beaten Wales 19-16 saw Keith Murdoch banished from the tour. He stopped in Oz and hasn't yet made it home yet!
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.
Who played ten tests for the All Blacks - but only in NZ?