December 5 - 1926 NZ Maori back in France

After 14 matches in England and Wales the New Zealand Maori team return to France and meet a strong French XV in Bordeaux. But the Maori strike form and earn a well deserved victory.

From “Maori Rugby 1884-1979” by Arthur H Carman. Pub. 1980 by Sporting Publications. P. 219-221.

“For the first match of the second portion of the French tour the Maoris had opposed to them a French Selection, a very strong side. With the exception of Besson and Chilo two of France’s strongest players, it is doubtful whether better players can be found in France. The team had of course the disadvantage of not having the opportunity of getting any combination, but they played well nevertheless. The Maoris however were in fine form and it would have taken a very powerful team to beat them on the day’s play. They gradually wore down the French side and finally ran out comfortable winners by a margin of 10 points. The whole side played with confidence and determination and the victory was thoroughly deserved……………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Players

Phillips has played as full-back in each of the last three games. At Bordeaux he played a brilliant game, and was the best player on the field. His tackling and kicking was sound while his fielding was at times brilliant. On several occasions he fielded the ball from the air while travelling at top speed and went on to make a long run or to set his backs moving. He also potted a good goal — a left-foot kick. It was indeed “Daddy’s” day. At Limoges also he played at the top of his form and came very near scoring more than once from full-back. He is inclined at times however to be bustled when hard pushed on defence, and also misses the ball at times in his eagerness to beat the opposition. Falwasser has resumed his machine-like scoring, having added half-a-dozen tries, four of these at Limoges where he ran rings round his opponents. Barclay and Grace have filled the position on the other wing. The latter played quite a keen game at Limoges but was very closely marked by the opposing wing. Pelham has been doing good work at centre and his passing has improved. During the first spell against Limousin he played at top form. Wi Neera has been playing solidly and is very sound on defence in spite of the fact that his tackling is high. Mete played below form at Bordeaux but amply made up for it at Limoges where he made many openings. Love and Kingi have both been doing well at half-back, the former playing his best game to date at Manchester. The hardest worker in the team is the vice-captain R. Bell. The amount of work this player gets through in the course of a match is astounding. He has been playing as an extra five-eighth lately and has been very effective as such. He backs up continually on attack, and if an opponent breaks through the defence, it is seldom that Bell is not handy to bring him down. His speed over a short distance is marvellous, but, owing to this fact no doubt, his gathering of passes is not good. As regards the forwards, the one I should first mention is T. Robinson. This player, originally selected as a threequarter, has been playing more often in the pack owing to the fact that his handling on the wing is not too good. In my first letter I mentioned that this boy was the most promising player in the team. Unfortunately he was badly injured at Narbonne early in the tour, and was unable to play for many weeks. He is now playing regularly, and at Manchester and Bordeaux his play left nothing to be desired. His previous play as a wing is valuable to him, and when he gets the ball in his hands he is a hard man to stop. He is a powerful runner and has a fend like a kick from a horse. In addition he is a real grafter in the tight work. S. Gemmell played in two more games, and when he is on the field the pack has a leader without a doubt. He played one of his best games against Lancashire…………………………………………………………………………………….

A French XV al Bordeaux

Maori team: Phillips, Falwasser, Pelham, Barclay (captain), Mete, Wi Neera, Love, Bell, Olsen, Dennis, Rika, Wilson, Manihera, Robinson and S. Gemmell.

French Selection: Chesneau, Jaureguy (captain), Baillette, Graciet, Villa, Bader, Du Manoir, Montade, Salagnac, Seyrou, Camel, Cassayet, Ribere, Etchberry and Piquiral.

The French learn was very dangerous for the first few minutes, but the Maoris worked play back and a couple of passing rushes by the backs nearly succeeded. Villa made a good run for the French XV but Pelharn took play back again with a long run down the line, but hung on to the ball instead of passing. The Maori forwards carried on to the line and then Phillips fielded a clearing kick and beating a couple of men had a left-foot pot at goal, and was successful. Maoris 4, French XV 0. This score had hardly been registered before Villa scored a fine try in the corner for the Frenchmen, and the score was 4-3. The Maoris were not to be denied however, and a passing bout in

which Love, Pelham and Falwasser took part gained 75 yards, Pelham eventually scoring. Phillips failed with the kick and at half-time the score was

Maoris 7, French XV 3.

There was no scoring for some time in the second spell, the tackling on both sides being deadly. After about 20 minutes play however one of the French backs failed to field the ball and Gemmell picked up and scored. Love failed.

Barclay almost scored soon after, and then Phillips set off on one of his brilliant runs after fielding the ball while travelling at top speed. He passed to Falwasser who returned the ball to Phillips but the full-back was tackled. From the ensuing play however, the Maoris heeled and the ball went through the backs to Falwasser who scored well out. Love again failed with a difficult kick. The Maoris continued to have the upper hand and the final whistle went with the scoring board reading Maoris 13, French XV 3.”

Wampy Bell - vice captain

Sam Gemmell - pack leader