France defeated New Zealand 14-3 in a brawling First Test at Stade Velodrome, Marseilles, watched by a vocal crowd of 30,000, at what was a double header with local soccer club, Marseille, who were playing Toulon.
Writing for Miroir-Sprint, Robert Barran said the First Test battle left a nasty taste in the mouth, and did nothing to promulgate the game in France.
Roger Bastide, writing for Miroir des Sports, sat next to a soccer journalist, who said to him: “After watching something like that, do you think any mother would let her son play rugby league?”
The ‘something’ he was referring to was an altercation which took place far away from the ball, and involved Kiwi prop, Maunga Emery from the Glenora club in Auckland, and former Pau rugby union player, Henri Marracq from Saint-Gaudens. They launched into a boxing match, while only three metres away, another French player, debutant Joseph Denarnaud, a restaurant owner from Lezignan, lay on the ground, arms covering his face with Kiwi prop, Eddie Moore standing over him.
Emery and Marracq faced off for quite a while, aiming wild punches at one another, until Marracq stumbled three steps back and landed on his behind. When referee, Eddie Martung from Bordeaux finally ran over to them, it was all over. When the game resumed, it was all-out aggression from both sides.
The French were fired up to make up for the disappointments of their 1964 tour of Australia and New Zealand when they lost all five Tests.
They were aware that Australia and New Zealand now looked down their noses at the French, a sad state of affairs, given France’s glorious record right throughout the 1950s.
It was widely accepted that the trouble erupted because Denarnaud tried to prove he was up to it, after getting a late call-up to the side following the withdrawal of first choice prop, Jean Pano. Denarnaud, whose restaurant was famous for its tripe, tried to beat the tripe out of the Kiwis, sometimes using the boot, as well as fists.
France’s tries were scored by winger, Andre Bruzy (Catalan XIII) and centre, Jean-Pierre Lecompte (Saint-Gaudens), with dual international, Pierre Lacaze (Toulouse) kicking two goals and skipper, Roger Garnung (Bordeaux) one. Five eighth, Etienne Courtine (Villeneuve-sur-Lot) added a field goal.
The Kiwi’s only try was scored by 19-year-old second rower, Robert Orchard from the Ngongotaha club in the Bay of Plenty, who would go on to play with Redcliffe in the Brisbane competition in 1973, and represent Queensland.
The Second Test was played at Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan with France wrapping up the series with a hard fought 6-2 win, in front of a crowd of 9,000. Garnung kicked three penalty goals for France, while Jack Fagan (Ponsonby) landed one for the tourists.
New referee, Michel Cassan from Cavaillon, tried to keep a lid on things after the fireworks of Marseilles, but the constant shrill of his whistle brought whistles of derision from the fans. France deserved to score a try or two, because they attacked at every opportunity, whereas the Kiwis played it safe, and were too predictable.
On December 12, France won the Third Test 28-5 on a muddy pitch at Stade des Minimes, Toulouse, with winger, Jean-Claude Marty (Lezignan) scoring two tries, while Martung contributed 13 points with a try and five goals.
1 Photos from Marseilles, 1965. Thanks to Roger Grime and his book ‘Stormy Sixties’
2 Action from the Second Test between France and New Zealand in Perpignan in 1965. French lock, Jean-Pierre Clar is tackled.