FLASHBACK: December 1955

FLASHBACK

DECEMBER 1955
France’s former Basque rugby union star, Jean Dop stole the limelight from Welsh dual rugby international, Lewis Jones in France’s 17-5 win over Great Britain at Parc des Princes, Paris.
The new look French side was expected to struggle against the powerful British combination, but instead dominated for most of the 80 minutes with the visitors’ only try – scored by winger, Mick Sullivan (Huddersfield) – coming near the end of the game. 
Before that, French winger, Andre Ducasse (Bordeaux) had crossed for two tries and prop, Ernest Tarozzi (Villeneuve-sur-Lot) one, with Pascal ‘golden boot’ Eito from Villeneuve, kicking four goals.
Livewire Dop, the hero of France’s amazing 29-28 win over Australia in Brisbane earlier in the year, didn’t put a foot wrong at fullback.
Dop came into the side for Louis Poletti (Carcassonne) and succeeded Marseilles’ clubmate, Francois Rinaldi as skipper, although Rinaldi retained his place in the pack, after the 32-19 loss to Other Nationalities in Leigh, England three weeks earlier.
Christian Duple from Bordeaux, like Dop, a Basque, brought off three miraculous try saving tackles and was the pick of the French forwards.
Duple said he was always confident of victory, despite superstars such as Puig Aubert, Vincent Cantoni, Joseph Crespo and Raymond Contrastin being unavailable through injury, loss of form or recent retirement from international football.
“At the risk of being thought conceited, I can say now that I never had a moment’s doubt about the outcome of the match,” Duple said. “The pre-match training at the National Institute for Sport filled us with confidence. We knew that Great Britain, strong side through they were, were there for the taking.
“In the final analysis, we won because we had more pace and implemented a sound defensive strategy.”
Halfback, Jeff Stevenson (Leeds) caused the most headaches for the French defence, while skipper, Alan Prescott (St Helens) tried admirably to rally his forwards.
Roger Bastide from Miroir des Sports, described Lewis Jones from Leeds, as “a thorough let down”.
Emile Toulouse from Miroir-Sprint, was even more damning, in his appraisal of the former Welsh rugby union star, who was making his seventh appearance for Britain in the 13-man code.
Toulouse wrote that Jones seemed too timid and hesitant to throw himself into the hurly-burly of battle.
“So much so, his was the only clean white jersey on view, while 25 other combatants were steeped in mud up to their eyebrows,” he wrote. “Of course, Jones by himself couldn’t have changed the course of the game, but he could have at least tried to minimise the effect his pristine jersey had on his reputation. This great star from over the Channel, hardly raised a murmur or approval with the famed kicking game the crowd had looked forward to admire.”
Jones, from Llanelli, had made his rugby union debut for Wales at the age of 18. He played another 11 union Tests, nine for Wales and two for the British Lions, before switching codes, aged 21.
.Many thanks once more to English author, Roger Grime and his book ‘Still Crowing’, for much of the information in this article.
1 Christian Duple draws British forward, Peter Foster before passing inside to fast breaking second rower, Gabriel Berthomieu
2 Andrew Ducasse on his way to one of his two tries against Britain, in Paris in 1955, after being put away by Andrew Delpoux
3 Lewis Jones playing for Royal Navy in his union days.

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