MARSEILLES was the setting of Australia’s first post-war rugby league Test against France, and the crowd of 15,679 got full value for money in a free flowing, fiery encounter, which the touring Kangaroos won 29-10.
Brisbane Souths’ lock, Bill Tyquin scored two tries for Australia, but proved unpopular with the locals for another reason.
Tyquin was involved in a dust-up with local hero, Jean Dop, who was making his Test debut.
The most acrimonious incident featured Australian prop, Duncan Hall and Andre Beraud. At the conclusion of their bout of fisticuffs, Beraud was on his haunches, while the still standing Hall wiped blood from his own face.
The crowd whistled, jeered and applauded throughout the contest, with France playing spectacular, but error riddled football.
Speaking of THE FOOTBALL. There was only one for the game, so there were 10 ball boys stationed around the arena.
Second rower, Alf Gibbs played his best match of the tour, while fellow forward, Noel Mulligan, in the words of Sydney scribe, Bill Corbett, “played a capital game”.
The Kangaroos had started the French leg of their tour with a 43-3 win over Midi-Pyrenees in Toulouse on Christmas Day, but the following day, crashed 20-5 to a Catalans’ Selection at Perpignan. (Please. No complaints from today’s players about their tough schedules).
On New Years Day, Australia defeated club side, AS Carcassonne 13-8 in a tough, willing encounter.
In the final match before the First Test, Australian defeated Languedoc (province) 38-0, at Beziers (the scene of Mal Meninga’s last match in 1994).
France were scheduled to make their first tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1951, and French president, Paul Barriere, a former universities rugby league international, vowed to send a strong side.
Goal kicking fullback, Puig Aubert, the idol of rugby fans of both codes in the south of France, was tipped to be the star.
The Kangaroos were guests of Barriere at his hat factory, near Carcassonne, leading up to the First Test.
Each member of the touring party was given a hat as a gift, before sitting down to a nine course banquet.
Forming an excellent choir, Barriere and French officials, sang songs from the region. The Kangaroos responded with a few Aussie tunes, and then performed their war cry.
On the way back to Carcassonne, they stopped in the town of Quillan’s main square. A large part of the populace turned out, as the Australians again performed their way cry.
Photo: Action from a club match played in Marseilles. Jean Dop has the ball.