I have three favorite "research" topics when digging into the history of early French rugby.
First, getting to know about all these foreign (say mostly British... but not only....) players who played in France at the turn of the XXth century and helped French rugby to catch up with Home Countries. Second paying a tribute to all of these young men - famous or not - who died during W.W.1. and third, covering everything related to Stade Français (yep, that's "my" team...)
And here is a photograph bringing together these three "research" topics in a single story...
Here are the guys from Stade Français, in large red and blue stripes, on February 9th 1913 before a match lost 6 - 16 to SCUF (large pic here). I was lucky to have the names of the players written on the back... from left to right:
standing : Roux, Redelsperger,Rodary, Charpentier (cap - intl), Russel, Combe (intl), Mourouval (intl), Podevin (intl), Etienne, Communeau (intl)
sitting : Vogt, Piron, Cratunesco, Beaurin (intl), Kelly
Let me zoom and pay a small tribute to John James KELLY, sitting on the right.
J.J. KELLY appears on the "WW1 Roll of Honour" of Stade Français among the 30 rugby players killed during the Great War.
Accoring to Commonwealth War Graves Commission, J.J. KELLY died, aged 26, on April 12th 1917 in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He was Captain in the Leinster Regiment (2nd Bn). He was the son of John and Jane KELLY, Cork... an Irish gentleman then !
KELLY was the editor of "Continental Daily Mail" in Paris and apparently well known in the press community, as per this notice published in Le Figaro (April 29th 1917).
And say, I suppose that you're not made Captain before turning 26 (+ Military Cross) if you don't show outstanding qualities...
I'll be happy (hey, Irish friends !!) to know more about KELLY's sporting career before moving to France. Where did he play? Or any other information about him? Or about his life as a soldier during the War? (err... not easy to google for a "Kelly"...)
This said, I can also think of a few (far-fetched...) connections between J.J.KELLY and 1905 New-Zealand captain David GALLAHER... apart from being two Irish-born rugby players...
First, let's remember that the name "All Blacks" was first forged by the Daily Mail, which was a very active sponsor of the 1905 tour of the "Colonial" team lead by Dave GALLAHER. Please read this 3 pages article that explains in details (not to forget some controversy...) how the Daily Mail misspelled a "All Backs" caption to be printed below a photograph into a world famous
Second, I'm realizing that Dave GALLAHER and J.J.KELLY shared a similar fate during the War... they died approx. at the same period of the War (April and October 1917) and in the same area (70km between Vimy and Passchendaele: map). Both rest in peace near the battlefields, respectively in Poperinge (Nine Elms) and Lievin.
We shall not forget them.
(cemetry pictures credit to CWGC and to Ms Sue McConnell)
Edited Dec.1st : I've received an email from David Gallaher's great-nephew Don F. in Sydney. His sister in NZ, Kay Carter, recently published "Maria Gallaher - Her short life and her children's story", a book about Gallaher family www.mariagallaher.com/ with many details about David (cf sample page). You could also check the Facebook page of "Dave Gallaher Society" here (last post is a video visit of Nime Elms British Cemetery pictured above)