France’s Test rugby league players had to catch taxis to Parc des Princes in Paris, after the bus that was due to transport them to the stadium, was involved in a crash.
By the time the players arrived at the ground, they barely had time to change and run on to the field to take on the touring Australian Kangaroos.
It was no surprise then, that Australia led 18-2 after 30 minutes. But the French hit back in sensational style, before losing 20-19 in the first of three Tests.
Australia scored four tries to one, three by winger, Eddie Lumsden and one by centre, Harry Wells with Welsh born fullback, Keith Barnes kicking four goals.
France’s only try was scored by prop, Aldo Quaglio from the Roanne club, while fullback, Pierre Lacaze (Toulouse) kicked six goals and two field goals. Quaglio, Lacaze and lock, Jean Barthe (Roanne) were all former rugby union internationals making their league Test debuts. Barthe and Quaglio, on switching codes, worked in a textile factory in Roanne, owned by French League president and local club ‘overlord,’ Claude Devernois.
Lacaze’s 16 points bettered legendary fullback, Puig Aubert’s record of 14, established in 1947, when France beat Wales in Bordeaux. Lacaze set up the try for Quaglio, but made several timid attempts at tackling, and his kicking in general play left a lot to be desired.
Parisian fans booed the home side for taking penalty kicks at goal instead of going all out in attack late in the second half.
French forward, Serge Tonus (Albi) claimed an Australian player had grabbed referee, Georges Jameau (controlling his second Test) by the jersey, shook him and threatened him, and therefore should have been sent off.
French captain, Jacques Merquey said he was not happy with the result, but did not despair of France’s chances of winning the three Test series.
As things transpired, Australia won the second Test 17-2 in Bordeaux and the third 16-8 in Roanne.
In 1960, France toured Australia and the three Test series was drawn, with the first match finishing 8-8, while Australia belted the tourists 56-6 in the return clash in Brisbane. Amazingly, France won the Third Test 7-5 in Sydney.
1 Rugby union converts, (from left), Aldo Quaglio, Pierre Lacaze and Jean Barthe
2 Pierre Lacaze on the attack against Australia in Paris. Behind him are Jean Aubert and Serge Tonus. The Australians are Jim Paterson and Rex Mossop.