French rugby league forward, Jean Galia was rated one of the best players in the world by former Australian halfback, Joe ‘Chimpy’ Busch on his return from a visit to France and England.
Busch said France, where league had only started the previous year, would be a force in the 13 man code, because of players like Galia and Max Rousie.
And Busch had some interesting observations about French supporters!
“On the score of enthusiasm, the French fans are out on their own, and the matter of a few benches, chairs or tables flung into the air, means nothing to them,” Busch told the Sydney media. “If the stands weren’t strongly anchored to the earth, they would go too.
“Generally speaking the French can’t rough it with the English sides, but Galia is just about the best forward I have seen. He is now 32 and weighs 16 stone. When he fends them off, they stay off, and he uses every ounce of his weight.”
Busch said Rousie ran from the base of the scrum, doubled up like a ball, defying all but the deadliest of tacklers.
“He drops kicks in a manner to put even Australian rulers in the shade,” Busch said.
France played a 15-all draw with an English selection the previous month, and Busch believed a French touring side would do well in Australia.
It wasn’t until 1951 that France toured here, and they won the series 2-1.
Obviously World War II (1939-45) was a big factor, but more so was the Vichy Government’s banning of league during that period and the seizing of all the game’s assets. At the outbreak of the war, French rugby league boasted as many clubs as union.
What might have been!
In other news: Sydney based Australian rugby union five eighth, Ron Billmann switched to league, signing to play at Longreach in outback Queensland. The terms of of his contact allowed for five pounds a week, free board and a position equivalent to 10 pounds a week.
<pics>Jean Galia (third from left, front row) with Max Rousie on his left in the Villeneuve-sur-Lot championship winning side, 1934-35.