FLASHBACK: December 1973

DECEMBER 1973
A bloke with three bullets in his back was France’s most courageous player in their 14-3 loss to Australia in the Second Test in Toulouse.
Georges Bonnet, the iron man of the French pack, played with great spirit in a match France had to win after Australia had won the First Test 21-9 in Perpignan.
Bonnett carried the three bullets, as a result of a ‘lover’s tiff’, reported Rugby League Week.
“He was hit with everything but the grandstand by the Australians,” wrote Geoff Prenter. “In the end he was still charging into the rucks like a kamikaze pilot – as keen and enthusiastic as ever”.
Australia scored three tries to one, with France’s only try scored by (appropriately), Jacques Franc.
Australian manager, Charlie Gibson and captain, Graeme Langlands had a heated mid-field argument with referee, Caillol at halftime, over his handling of the match. The Australians’ interpreter, the aptly named Barney Maloney!!!  (that has to be a gee-up) did his best to get sense out of what was being said.
Australian fullback, Ray Branighan (who would play in Ayr, North Queensland six years later) was outstanding, while lock, Paul Sait was the pick of the forwards.
For the Australians it was sweet revenge after the previous ‘Roos – in 1967-68 – lost the series 2-0, with the other match drawn.
France led 8-5 at halftime in the First Test, but could not go on with things against an Australian team which featured three rookies – Queenslander, John Lang; Cronulla glamor boy, Greg Pierce and New South Wales country lad, Mick Cronin, from Gerringong.
France scored two tries in the first half, both from kicks by skipper, Roger Garrigue.
Australia made it 8-all four minutes after the break when Branighan set up a try for lock, Geoff Starling. Garrigues kicked a field goal soon after for France to regain the lead, but from there Australia dominated, with winger, Ted Goodwin scoring two tries and centre, Bob Fulton his second.
Rugby League Week’s Prenter, rated French winger, Jean-Claude Marty one of the finest players in the world.
“Marty, now 30, was an international five years ago, but gave football away to concentrate on his studies,” Prenter wrote. “He returned to league just two months before the Test and showed just what a great player he could have been, with a powerful display on the left wing.”
There was a bizarre moment in the first half when French second rower, Jean Pierre Sauret decided his boots were hurting, so he took them off and played on. During the period when he was running around in socks, he was cautioned for a high tackle.”
Three days later, the Kangaroos beat France B 24-12 in Bordeaux, the only other match on French leg of their tour. They flew back to Australia the day after the win in Toulouse.
Photo: Georges Bonnett after a French win at Bradford in 1968
Photo 2: Paul Sait welcomed home by wife and family.

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