Chapter 3 - Dissolution & Disgrace |
Dissolution & Disgrace
The incompetence of Franceâ€™s union administrators (FFR) and their establishment cronies only managed to hasten rugby leagueâ€™s rapid rise toward dominance in 1930s France but the malicious intent remained and any opportunity to hinder or destroy the treizistes would be taken.
Such an opportunity arose as a direct result of Franceâ€™s defeat by Hitlerâ€™s Germany in 1940 and the actions taken remain one of the most shameful episodes in any sportâ€™s history.
When France was defeated many from the right of French politics went into eager collaboration with their Nazi overlords, setting up a puppet government in the spa town of Vichy. Naturally this contained many 'establishmentâ€™ friends of the beleagured FFR â€“ the perfect opportunity to destroy league.
Under the pretence that professional sport was damaging to the moral fibre of the nation the Vichy government produced a decree of 19th December 1941 that dissolved the French Rugby League, confiscated their property, grounds and assets.
All other professional sports such as cycling and football were ignored and naturally Unionâ€™s own shamateurism was overlooked. Moreover, the playing of rugby league in itself was outlawed â€“ whether professional or amateur. Rugby league was made illegal!
Throughout the war treizistes played covert matches and many of the gameâ€™s players were active in the French resistance, many sadly losing their lives.
Their sacrifice was not in vain and in 1944 France was liberated, but could league possibly re-establish itself? Surely a new government would look unkindly on the FFR and the actions taken seemingly on their behalf?
Read Chapter 1 - Puig-Aubert here...
Read Chapter 2 - The Beginnings here...