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Monday, April 11, 2011

Rugger Girls: Part 17 - The 1991 World Cup

The 1991 French World Cup team were told they were
"not eligible to wear the Rooster"

Seventeenth chapter of the summary of the history of women's rugby in France, from the book "Rugger Girls"("Des Filles en Ovalie"), written by Jacques B. Corti and Yaneth Pinilla Foreword by Serge Betsen. Published weekly(ish) by French women's rugby blog Des Filles en Ovalie.

In 1991 France took part in the first World Cup. From April 6 to 14, 12 teams competed in Wales: Canada, Spain, USA, England, Holland, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Britain, USSR and Sweden. Les Bleues finished third behind England and the United States, who won the title.

The French team had yet to find its proper place within the FFR. For this World Cup - the first global event of the women's rugby - Marie-Céline Bernard had written to Albert Ferrasse for permission to participate. Despite this even the little details suggest that nothing was done to support the girls: on their singlets they were told that they were not yet eligible to wear the rooster, so a simple blue, white and red patch had to make do.

This lack of true support for girls was a continuation of what had been experienced since federalization.

Nathalie Amiel still finds it funny to remember the first international match under the FFR, in 1990. "It was pretty incredible", she said. "Marc Gosse [the FFR appointed coach], was accustomed to big hotels. But with girls there was no budget for it. For our first match in April 1990, the French players and officials stayed in a hostel. The girls, we slept in one room, and officials on the floor in a large room where there was the fireplace. Nothing had been organised to eat. We would have had to leave for the game after a bowl of soup and a boiled egg, but fortunately someone from Gennevilliers [SW Paris] got us some pizzas. We still won.* "

In 1994, three years after the first, the second World Cup was organized (since then, it has taken place every four years). The competition took place in Scotland and this time Marie-Céline Bernard teamed up with Gerard Ricq, who joined the French team in 1992. France finished third again.


Extract from the book "Des Filles en Ovalie", Editions Atlantica (2005), Written by Jacques B. Corti / Yaneth Pinilla Foreword by Serge Betsen.

*France only played one international in 1990 - beating Netherlands 10-0 away - so the hostel and pizza restaurant would probably have been somewhere in Amsterdam! 

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