Rugby, Resistance and the RAF

After more than four years of Nazi occupation Paris was finally liberated on the 25th August 1944. Central to the French struggle had been their underground resistance movement and the air campaign of the Royal Air Force. In the aftermath representatives of both met at Parc du Princes for a unique game of rugby.

The following account was written and recorded in the minutes of the RAF Rugby Union. It is printed here in full:

Royal Air Force Rugby Union Minutes Book


Played in Paris on November 11th, 1944 at the Parc du Princes

The R.A.F. committee and team left by air on Friday morning, November 10th, arriving at La Bourget aerodrome about noon.  Very little damage to French towns and villages could be observed, but in the places where V1 sites were situated the sites and their immediate vicinity were plastered with bomb craters. Continue reading

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Historic Rugby Internationals: New Zealand v France, 1961

The second test in the 3-match series between New Zealand and France played in a gale at Athletic Park, Wellington on August 5th 1961 ranks as one of the most remarkable test matches ever played.

The French team was on an historic first tour of New Zealand and Australia during which they were to play thirteen matches including three tests in New Zealand and two matches including one test at the end of the tour in Australia.

France took the field for the 1st test match at Eden Park, Auckland on July 22nd having played four matches against provincial opposition.  Although they had won their first two games against Nelson/Marlborough and Taranaki, they had then suffered a heavy defeat against Waikato and a narrow defeat against North Auckland so they were not fancied to win the opening test of the series.


Players from the 3rd test match of the tour on 19th August 1961 in Wellington

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Who was Lewis Cobden Thomas?

Lewis Cobden Thomas was born on 6 August 1865 in Merthyr Tydfil, the fourth son and fifth of eleven children of Thomas Thomas, an ironmonger, and his wife Gwladys, nee Jones.  He was given the name of the radical liberal MP, Richard Cobden, who had fiercely opposed the Corn Laws, campaigned for their abolition and for an improved system of education.

Thomas, Lewis Cobden (small)

He was educated at Merthyr College, Queen’s College Taunton, University College Aberystwyth and University College Cardiff where he obtained a 1st Division Certificate London Matriculation.

A natural sportsman, he played rugby as a forward for Cardiff in 12 matches and scored 7 tries in the 1883-84 and 1884-85 seasons.  Continue reading

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Hartlepool’s Rugby History

Hartlepool Rovers, 1911/12

Hartlepool Rovers, 1911/12

By Chris McLoughlin. All images below are copyright Hartlepool Borough Council, and reproduced with permission.

Since RWC 2015 and as part of the “Impact Beyond 2015” initiative, the Hartlepool & District RFU has been engaged with the Hartlepool Museums and Library Services in cataloguing a large collection of Rugby ephemera dating between the 1870s and 1924. This collection is part of an even larger hoard of documents discovered in a Printers cellar in the early 1960s and rescued by a local Historian, Robert Wood, and now safely held in an archive by Hartlepool’s Museum Service. They cover many aspects of the standard work of a busy Printer in the boom times of the busy shipbuilding and coal exporting North East port. Every aspect of life is covered, whether business, religion, theatres, entertainments, flower shows, political meetings, sporting events, and even early cinema.

The Hartlepool area has long been a strong supporter of rugby, with many clubs operating over the years and the rugby ephemera reflects this. Continue reading

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When the Crowd Stops Roaring by Neven MacEwan

Neven MacEwan played 20 times for New Zealand between 1956 and 1962. He helped defeat the British and Irish Lions three times during their 1959 tour of Australia and New Zealand and contributed to a 3-0 series whitewash of France in 1961. His international career came at a time when the All Blacks vied with South Africa for supremacy in the world game. The following extract is taken from Neven’s recently published autobiography ‘When the Crowd Stops Roaring’.

Neven MacEwan, 1964

My First Test – 1956

In the second test against South Africa in Wellington we played with the wind in the first half and managed to get the first try of the match via Bill Gray, but we wasted a lot of effort. By half-time, we had only one score to our name. I remember Bill Clark, Don McIntosh and I exchanging a few frustrated glances as we kicked, kicked, kicked, and kicked some more. Tiny White and Bob Duff were fighting really well for the ball in the line-outs, but it was for nought. I started out well enough, but I soon found myself grappling with Johan Claassen; he was everywhere I didn’t want him to be. Continue reading

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Beginner’s Guide to The Rugby Championship

The Rugby Championship 2019 begins on Saturday so it’s the perfect time to get up to speed with the Southern Hemisphere’s round robin format tournament.

The Rugby Championship in a Nutshell

The Rugby Championship is a Rugby Union tournament played every year between Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

How did The Rugby Championship begin?  

Originally the Tri-Nations, the inaugural championship was contested by Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in 1996. In 2012, Argentina joined the tournament and it was renamed The Rugby Championship.

South Africa v New Zealand, 10th August, Newlands Stadium, Cape Town (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Happy Blogiversary!

It’s been 5 years since we started this blog (you can read the very first post here) and over that time we’ve covered all sorts of topics, from ghostly paintings and the Twickenham streaker, to the “First Lady” of rugby and international rugby’s most decorated player. Not forgetting our extra-terrestrial jersey!

Here’s a round up of our top 10 most read posts over the last 5 years…


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