Retro France Rugby League Shirt Polo


Inspired by the former great French Rugby League teams. The 1951 French Rugby League tour of Australia and New Zealand was captained by Puig Aubert who played 28 matches in total, winning 21 of them in what is regarded as the high point in the history of Rugby League in France.


The inspiration for the Retro France Rugby League Shirt Polo is taken from the great France Rugby League teams of the 1950s.

Retro France Rugby League Tour to Australia and New Zealand

Following the success of the 1951 tour, the 1955 France team left Paris in high spirits. In Australia, it was thought the national team had learned from the defeats in 1951 and would be far too strong for the tourists.

It seemed that way in the first test. When a powerful Australian pack that included the likes of Duncan Hall, Ken Kearney and Roy Bull in the front row began to dominate. The pitch on the Sydney Cricket Ground was a sea of mud not suitable for the French style of rugby. Only Captain Jacques Merquey, Full back Jean Dop and Second Row Forward Guy Delaye were survivors from the 1951 series and the team lacked a little experience. In contrast, the Kangaroos fielded Clive Churchill at Full Back and Keith Holman at Scrum Half. Two legends of the game. Australia won the match comfortably and finished 20 points to 8.

France had to regroup quickly as the second Test approached. The game held at the now famous Brisbane Cricket Ground ‘The Gabba’. The stadium capacity was 35,000. However, the Australian Rugby League had sold 45,745 tickets, so the terraces were packed to bursting. The odds were on another Australian victory. They had kept the powerful front row of Hall, Kearney and Bull. And retained the Second Row of Brian Davies and Henry Holloway. But decided to change the Loose Forward, Harold Crocker replacing Peter Diversi.

Strategies and Challenges

France on the other hand had made wholesale changes. Gilbert Benausse a great stand-off had looked uncomfortable at full back, so Jean Dop took over that position. Dop himself was struggling from a bad cold but declared himself fit to play. They moved Benausse into a more familiar position in the place of Jimenez. The most interesting change was the introduction of the second row pairing of Gabriel Berthomieu and Armand Save. These two tough competitors were chosen to try and counter the big Australian forwards.

The game couldn’t have started must worse for the French as they spilled the ball near there own line. Australian Stand Off Graham Laird swopped to score the first try. The giant Australian forwards began to dominate as expected. But Gilbert Benausee got the chance to reduce the arrears with a finely struck penalty. Then France’s tiny scrum-half Claude Teisseire slipped through an attempted tackle and had Centre Roger Rey on his shoulder who scored a sensational try. Benausse added the conversion and France were ahead by 7 points to 5.

Another Benausse penalty took the game out to 9 -5 in France’s favour. But the Aussie pack starting bullying the French once again. Loose forward Harold Crocker went over for a try from a scrum. Churchill missed the conversion, so France still led 9-8. But not for long. It was Crocker again who scored and although Churchill surprisingly missed the conversion the hosts were ahead 11-9. Both teams swapped penalties and at half-time Australia were 15-11 in front.

France and Australia

France somewhat wearily headed for the changing rooms. The team had adopted an Australian called ‘Jules’ who spoke French very well and had spent time in France when he fought in the Battle of the Somme. He was sure France could win. The players were less sure. And to make matters worse Dop’s cold wasn’t helping. Jules had asked if he could do anything to help Dop. In reply, Dop had asked for a half-litre of Red Wine. Jules dashed out of the changing rooms down to the bar and returned with a tankard full of warm sweet red wine. Dop drank it down in one gulp and followed the team out on to the ground.

The Australians continued where they left off before half time. Winger Ross Kite went in for a try. Then Brian Davies kicked a penalty. France came back with a try by Jacques Merquey, but Australia replied with a try of their own through Graham Laird. Henry Holloway scored again for Australia and with 14 minutes left, the score was 28-16 in their favour.

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Being desperate, France now played more loosely. Jean Dop broke through and passed to Roger Rey who scored his second try. Benausse converted to pull the score back to 28-21. Dop started on a criss-cross run that looked as though it was going nowhere, then he suddenly darted through the Aussie defence. He found Jacques Merqueyon his shoulder who sprinted to the line to score his second try. Benausse converted and France trailed by only 2 points.

Now with only seconds left, Australia kicked the ball downfield and set their line of defence. Dop collected the ball and headed towards the Green wall at full pace. He then halted and set off again and ran in to clear space. He passed to Andre Ducasse and remarkably the French winger scored in the corner. The crowd left the stadium in stunned silence, France had staged an amazing comeback and won the game 29-28.

Manufacturing of Retro France Rugby League Shirt

Now on to the third Test…to read more The Ellis Rugby Retro France Rugby League Shirt Polo is manufactured from 100% chunky pique cotton. This garment features detailed embroidery and appliqué badge as well as inner contrast placket, arm rib and collar stand. This Polo Shirt is available in sizes S to 5XL.

As well as the Retro France Rugby League Shirt Polo we also offer a Vintage France Rugby League World Cup Shirt and T-Shirt.

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Small, Medium, Large, X Large, 2X Large, 3X Large, 4X Large, 5X Large




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