A letter to our French rugby friends

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Bonjour mesdames et messieurs, mes amis rugbymen, entraineurs et joueurs!

A heat welcome to Gadigal nation from the individuals of the Eora nation. Our mob have positioned a delicate footprint on this land for over 60,000 years.

This letter is to warmly welcome our French rugby comrades to Australia to proceed our wealthy 93-year rugby historical past. Since 1928, the Wallabies and Les Tricolores have contested 47 Take a look at matches sharing the outcomes with 27 wins to Australia and 18 to France, two being drawn. The victor’s prize, presently Le Trophee Des Bicentenaires, celebrates the bicentenaries of Australia and the French Revolution (1988 and 1989 respectively).

Throughout the camaraderie and brotherhood of world rugby, we pay tribute to the outstanding capability of Les Bleus to play a outstanding avant-garde fashion of rugby all through the ages. Characterised by inventive flamboyance and occasional gallic nonchalance, the French XV have persistently entertained the world with their daring means to execute danger, unorthodox counter-attack strikes from deep inside their very own territory to attain some breathtaking tries.

Lengthy admired for this fashion of play, arguably displaying Joan of Arc’s reckless and brave traits, this fashion additionally displays the lofty values of the French Revolution on the Barricades: ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’. It additionally captures the daring and tactical shock methods of Napoleon. Vive la renaissance!

(Photograph by Graham Denholm/Getty Photographs)

Your rugby triumphs and defeats in Stade de Paris, Parc des Princes, Ballymore or Aussie Olympic Stadium proudly symbolize a stirring name to arms, much like that of Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s well-known 1862 novel Les Miserables. This highly effective rebellion by the union peasants, maybe historic ‘gilets jaunes’, to interrupt down the barricades of the bourgeoise impressed the rousing phrases in: “On the barricades / Upon these stones”.

“Allow them to come, in the event that they dare, we’ll be there
Now as we pledge ourselves to carry this barricade
Allow them to come of their legions, and they are going to be met
Place confidence in yourselves, and don’t be afraid
Let’s give ’em a screwing, they’ll always remember”.

We additionally lengthen our real respect to the numerous legends of French rugby throughout the ages. Who can overlook your inspirational captain, flanker and cult hero Jean-Pierre Rives whose fearless gameplay dominated 59 Take a look at matches, 34 as captain? Usually French, Jean-Pierre retired to turn out to be a famend painter and sculptor!

Whereas travelling with my spouse Annie in 2016, I used to be lucky to fulfill one in every of your best rugby legends, Serge Blanco, at his retailer in Toulouse. After all, we traded tales. Magnanimously, I started by reminding Serge that Wallabies followers have all the time had the best admiration for his par excellence silky abilities, however I additionally had so as to add, we nonetheless wince in discomfort on the reminiscence of his length-of-the-field match-winning attempt to sink the Wallabies within the semi-final of the 1987 Rugby World Cup.

He was merely excellent! Years later, in 1993, Serge virtually repaid Australia with a considerate gesture to our personal Wallabies fullback Marty Roebuck who had simply performed his last Take a look at match at Parc de Princes. Serge dropped into the Wallabies’ change room to pay tribute to his opposing fullback Roebuck, who had scored all of Australia’s factors apart from Tim Gavin’s strive of their 24-3 victory over France. What joie de vivre!

In the identical breath, we acknowledge your patisserie of previous rugby heroes: inventive centre Philippe Sella (111 caps), who had the “energy of a bull however contact of a piano participant”, and two of world rugby’s hardest again rowers, Serge Betsen and “l’homme des cavernes” Sebastien Chabal.

A general view of a lineout at sunset

(Photograph by Richard Heathcote – World Rugby through Getty Photographs)

And get this for a commentator’s dream: three French names that roll in mellifluous tones from the tongue, as easy as their attacking crusades up the paddock. Rampaging flanker Thierry Dusautoir, who captained France in a report 56 Checks, wingers Patrice Lagisquet, “the Bayonne Specific”, and Philippe Saint-Andre, “le goret”, who began the well-known “strive from the top of the world” in opposition to NZ in 1994.

Bravo! There may be France’s most capped participant, hooker Fabien Pelous, with 118 caps and pioneer Jean Prat, who because the French captain turned Lourdes right into a powerhouse rugby membership. Who might overlook flyhalves Thierry Lacroix and the dextrous magician Frederic Michalak, the ever threatening winger Vincent Clerc and long-serving hooker Raphael Ibanez (98 caps).

We recall your cheeky halfback who’s presently head coach at Racing Metro, Pierre Berbizier, and centre Franck Mesnel, now sports activities commentator and proprietor of the trendy Eden Park boutiques, every with 56 caps.

The world over, it’s onerous to prime the eagerness and story behind your rousing anthem ‘La Marseillaise’, composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg in 1792. It’s a spirited invitation to youngsters of the Fatherland (“Allons, enfants de la Patrie”) to come up and defend the nation:

“Aux armes, citoyens
Formez vos bataillons
Marchons! Marchons!
Qu’un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!”

We respect your enchanting historical past and satisfaction within the Tricolores, nevertheless for colonial Aussies, nothing evokes our Wallabies greater than a full, girt-by-sea stadium belting out ‘Waltzing Matilda’ or ‘Hey True Blue’. Be ready for a refrain of ‘We Come from a Land Down Beneath’ once we breach your strive line. That’s merely our males at work!

We genuflect reverently to Pierre de Coubertin, who anointed the fashionable Olympics in 1894 with the uplifting hendiatris: “Citius Altius Fortius”. Totally redolent of the values of rugby union since its origin in 1823, Pierre de Coubertin echoed: “A very powerful factor within the Olympic Video games will not be successful however collaborating; the important factor in life will not be conquering however preventing properly.” Raa raa!

Simply so as to put together, in 2023, we’re wanting ahead to visiting France for the Rugby World Cup and maybe once more in 2024 for the Summer season Olympics. On a sentimental be aware, Australian swimmer Freddie Lane gained our first gold medal on the first trendy summer time Olympics in Paris in 1900.

Earlier than signing off, a respectful nod to our Wallabies legends who’ve graced the fantastic recreation in France: Dally, Trevor Marks, Cyril, Towers Terry Curley, John Thornett, Ken Thornett, Hippy, Slacky, Tony Shaw, Reg S, Topo, Buddha, Hyperlink, Ealesy, Poido, Nick Farr-Jones, Skylab, Toutai, Noddy, Stirling, Campo, the silky Ellas, wingers Ben and Joe, Jimmy, Marty and Luco, Pappy, Bam-Bam, Kurtley, Timmy H and Jason, Timmy G, Tim Lane, George, Herbs, Matty B, Kearnsy, Bernie, Fitzy, Adam AC, Drew, and our different George!

George Gregan and Stephen Larkham of the Wallabies thank fans

(Photograph by Cameron Spencer/Getty Photographs)

By the way in which, we’re nonetheless most grateful to your French fullback Xavier Garbajosa for generously letting our slowest flanker Owen “Duck a l’orange” Finnegan amble by at his prime velocity to attain the match-winning strive in opposition to you within the 1999 Rugby World Cup last. I can hear Edith Piaf singing ‘Mon Dieu’!

So, as you might have guessed, I’ve saved the very best till final. Whereas our two nations could get pleasure from some cultural variations or a aggressive ‘my father is best than your father’ rivalry, all of it mounts to nought (rien!) in comparison with the wealthy historical past we share.

Australians have bravely and efficiently defended French soil at Fromelles, Bullecourt, Ypres and most famously, in 1918 at Villers-Bretonneux the place we held our floor within the mud and trenches similar to a well-drilled rugby scrum.

Not surprisingly, within the second, one typical Australian digger known as out in his greatest french: “Fini retreat madame, beaucoup Australiens ici” (No extra retreat madame, many Australians right here!). As we speak, the native faculty in Villers-Bretonneux proudly bears the pledge: “N’oublions jamais, l’Australie” (Always remember Australia!). Tres formidable!

You’d agree that it’s not possible to beat the theatre of the Kiwi haka. And granted, it’s onerous to prime the passionate bars of your stirring anthem ‘La Marseillaise’. It’s a rallying name to arms that might make Napoleon or Marie Antoinette smile, nevertheless when the referee whistles recreation on subsequent Saturday, beware the Aussie Anzac spirit – we’re Ned Kelly, the Jolly Swagman, Breaker Morant, Vincent Lingiari, the Man from Snowy River, Bluey and the Drover’s Canine in a single. Tres dangereux!

So mes freres, we warmly welcome you to Australian soil.

Depart your pate, camembert and champagne at residence… s’il vous plait.

As an alternative, you’ll want your greatest gallic strikes and Bastille spirit.

As a result of we’ll be bringing our greatest Wallabies recreation.

See you on the stadium!



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