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11 November 2014
As tour leaders of the Wiliiment Sport Travel groups in UK and France this winter (mostly following the 2014 All Blacks) Dave Loveridge and myself, with our wives, had been acutely aware that the inclusion of a 2-day breakaway trip from London to northern France and Belgium would be particularly poignant this year. 80 supporters were down to visit familiar battle sites for New Zealand war historians; places like; Messines, Passchendale and Ypres.
And so we did, standing bare-headed in the chill morning sun in Belgium on the 11th of the 11th of November, as the New Zealand national anthem rang out in front of the Messines Memorial to the fallen New Soldiers who lie in the impeccably kept Commonwealth war graves. Wreathes were laid by both Belgian and New Zealand officials, Binyon's ode was read and silence rang out across the frosty meadows of the nearby farmlands.
Later I was able to reflect that of the 13 All Blacks who died in World War I four were killed in a fortnight more or less right where we were standing this week. The Memorial to the fallen New Zealanders is at the top of the ridge where the great battles took place for the German-held village in June 1917.
As best I can here is a list of the All Blacks and where they fell in World War I. But I publish it with full respect to the memories of many other fine Kiwi sports people of all codes who died in those horror times. And also of the thousands of others who lie in graves, many unmarked, in what is now a serene and very peaceful part of the world.
There was real poignacy for Dave Loveridge who was with us this week. Not only is Dave an ex-All Black test captain, but he is very aware that the first ever 'All Black' team leader Dave Gallaher (of the famous 1905-06 team) is buried only kilometres away from Messines in Poperinge.
And the Reg Taylor story adds more too. He was one of the others who died where we were standing. in Messines in 1917 in fact. He, like Dave Loveridge, was an All Black farmer who originally hailed from Inglewood Taranaki.
RIP the dead ALL BLACKS from World War One; (in alphabetical order)
James Baird - died Messines, Belgium June 7 1917, France
Robert 'Bobby' Black - died France (Battle of The Somme) 21 September 1917
Henry 'Norky' Dewar - died Gallipoli August 9 1915
Ernest Dodd - died France 11 September 1918
Albert 'Doolan' Downing - died Gallipoli, 8 August 1915
Dave Gallaher - died Passchendale, Belgium 4 October 1917 (Buried Poperinge, not far from Messines)
Eric Harper - died Palestine 30 April 1918
James 'Jim' McNeece - died Belgium, June 21 1917 in Battle of Messines Ridge.
Alex 'Jimmy' Ridland - died France, 5 November 1918 (six days before the end of WWI)
George Sellars - died Messines, Belgium, 7 June 1917 (carrying a wounded colleague away from battle)
Reginald Taylor - died Messines, Belgium 20 June 1917
Hubert 'Jum' Turtill - died in France 9 April 1918 - (Was one of the first All Blacks to go to rugby league ('northern Union'). He joined the war with the British Armed Forces)
Frank Wilson - died France 19 September 1916 (Battle of the Somme)
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The record 70-6 World Cup win over Italy was just five days earlier. Now John Gallagher and Craig Green each scored 4 tries in this new record 74-13 win over Fiji.
A powerful and popular rugby club in the south of France. The club has had great success in the French club championship winning eight times: in 1930, 1945, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1976, 1982 and 1988.
The 1930 ﬁnal was one of the most dramatic for the club. One of its players, 18-year-old wing Michel Pradie, was so badly injured in a qualifying match that he died that night in hospital. In the ﬁnal in Bordeaux against the Quillan team, the score was 0–0 at full-time. In extra time the Agen fullback Marius Guiral, who had replaced Pradie, seized the ball and drop-kicked a goal from 45 metres. Agen won 4–0 amid scenes of high emotion and relief. That night the president of the FFR said the dropped goal had the ‘breath of poor Michel Pradie carrying it towards victory’.
In 1945 Agen won again with two of its strongest club personalities in the team: the indomitable Albert Ferrasse (later president of the FFR) and Guy Basquet.
The 1966 ﬁnal was one to forget more than savour. Agen beat Dax by 9–8, but the game was so full of dirty play that the Minister of Youth and Sports was moved to ask ofﬁcially what the FFR intended to do about it.
The federation accordingly stepped in and suspended three participants in the game for life! (The suspensions were lifted after one year.)
In the 1976 ﬁnal Agen won again by 13–10, but only after extra time. By this time the team had René Benesis, Daniel Dubroca, and Alain Plantefol, all current or future French internationals. Its opponent that year was the formidable Béziers club, which won so heavily in the championship in that decade.
In 1984 the club was not quite so lucky. Again the two teams in the ﬁnal were Béziers and Agen. Again extra time was needed before Béziers won 3–1 on penalties after a 21–21 draw.
Agen’s most recent win was in 1988 when the prominent internationals Bérot, Lacombe, Sella, Montlaur, Berbizier, Erbani, Benetton, Gratton, Seigne and Dubroca gave the Agen team a star-studded lineup. That year it beat Tarbes 9–3. The two rival hookers, Dubroca (Agen) and Dintrans (Tarbes), captained the two teams.
More than a rugby club, Agen has been one of the strong power centres of French rugby. The elevation of Albert Ferrasse to the presidency of the FFR ensured that. The town hosted an International Rugby Board meeting
in 1989. Several internationals have been held on Agen’s home ground, the Stade Armandie, which was renovated to host games for the 1991 and 1999 Rugby World Cups.
In 2002 Agen made a bold attempt to win their 9th French Club Championship. In a glorious final at Stade de France the game went to extra time but Biarritz won 25.22
Players with the surnames of Jones, Williams and Thomas when added together made up how many players in the Welsh squad at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia?
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28 December 2014 (8 years ago)
These two could be brothers !
Armistace day and this tour of Ypres -Passchendale- Tyne Cot Cemetery was very moving-we will not forget-cheers Bruce Stewart Brightwater Nelson