Tournoi 1920 : when France won away for the first time

The 6 Nations 2020 which will start this Saturday 01 February is an opportunity to dust off the great book of the history of the Tournament and to take a leap 100 years back, when the XV of France won its first away victory in this which was the 5 Nations Tournament at the time, facing Ireland in Dublin on the old Lansdowne Road.

The 1920 edition is that of renewal after 5 years of interruption due to the First World War. A Great War that has left its mark on rugby players... During the opening match on New Years Day at the Parc des Princes, 5 players left an eye on the battlefields, 2 on the French side, 3 in the Scottish ranks, for a meeting which will be nicknamed later “match of the blind ”. With each 3 victories and 1 defeats, the teams of Wales, Scotland and England finish the competition tied with 6 points, the XV of Poireau having registered the most point after its success without appeal to Cardiff 19 to 5 against the English and 28 to 4 against Ireland. The French team begins the tournament full of ambitions, with a new generation of talented players who, the previous year, had resisted the New Zealand "Kiwis" to finally only bow by a small point. After 3 narrow defeats in the first 3 meetings, in Paris 0-5 against Scotland and 4-5 against the Welsh, and an England-France which ended in a tight result 8 to 3, the squad led by the Toulouse captain Philippe Struxiano arrives in Ireland with the firm intention of not bringing back the "wooden spoon".

xv de france rugby 1920The XV of France before its 3rd match of the Tournament 1920 against Wales.

In the French Tricolores selection, the emblematic René Crabos and Adolphe Jauréguy appear in the three-quarter line, and the native of Agen Marcel-Frédéric Lubin-Lebrère at the front. More than a rugby player, Lubin-Lebrère is a personality apart, a survivor of the Great War where, left for dead with his body riddled with bullets after fighting in the Somme, he was picked up by the German army then treated and made captive, before returning to Toulouse, one eye less ... Before the match, the player from Stade Toulousain as well as his teammates in blue Jean Sébédio and Théophile Cambre were arrested in a pub by the Royal Irish Police for having resumed revolutionary songs with fans of XV of the Clover sympathizers of the IRA then in full "Tan War", the Irish war of independence which lasted from 1919 to 1921.

It's raining in Dublin this Saturday April 3, 1920, and the meadow of Lansdowne Road is a field of mud. This does not prevent a clear French victory, 5 tries to 1 signed Gayraux, Got and Jauréguy. After leading 9-0 at halftime, the XV of France won 15 to 7 and signed its first away victory, after that against Scotland in 1911 in Paris. The following year, the Blues were going to win by 2 times. History was on the march.

marcel-frédéric lubin-lebrèreThe miraculous hero of the Great War Marcel-Frédéric Lubin-Lebrère.