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So You Think You Know About French Rugby? (Part I)
Posted by southstander on March 16 2005 - 14:28:46

by Rob Peat

We’re off to Perpignan this year to play London, and from next year we’ll have the pleasure of annual fixtures against the Frenchman, but how much do you know about the game in France?

Over the next few weeks Puig-Aubert will try to enlighten us and to kick things off here is a pen portrait of the player from whom he takes his username.

Chapter 1 - Puig-Aubert

Puig-Aubert was a rotund, chain smoking fullback from the great Carcassonne, XIII Catalan and French national sides of the late 40s and 50s, leading the latter to a test series win in Australia and the 1954 World Cup final.

His attitude to defence was rather mixed. Sometimes he wouldn’t even attempt to tackle a player who had broke the line arguing that it was the other player’s job to defend: his role was to attack, and in attack his skills were breathtaking, displaying balance, guile and vision to unlock the tightest of defences with embarrassing ease.

Stories abound of his exploits: tales of smoking or drinking brandy during matches are commonplace, but it was his approach to goal kicking which best sum up the great man’s genius and attitude.

Not for Puig-Aubert the tedious Wilkinsonesque ritual of addresing the ball prior to the kick, instead he would often stand with his back to the goal, turn around and kick - the ball unerringly finding it’s way between the uprights. That was match day practice but his party piece, as witnessed by Australian great Clive Churchill was reserved for training. Here, he would place the old heavyweight leather ball by the corner flag and kick from there, with the ball swerving around between the sticks!

After retirement Puig-Aubert lived for many years in his adopted home of Carcassonne before his death in the 1990s. His name is still much revered in the town with a statue of him adorning AS Carcassonne’s Albert Domec stadium. A fitting tribute to one of Rugby League’s all time legends.



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