Let me narrate a cool story that let us uncover this rare and beautiful French international cap yesterday!
I was invited yesterday with four other blokes at the Stade de France to support my long-time favorite Stade Français in a "live twitt" contest vs the other Parisian rugby team Racing Metro, the modern successor Racing Club de France which was celebrating its 130 years on this occasion.
As you can see, its was a perfect day (just forgetting the disapointing result of the match...): wonderful hospitality, champagne and nice folks... (thank you Ludo for the VIP organization)
And here starts my story...
Discussing rugby history at half-time with fellow Stade Français fan Fred Ramel, we went into something like:
- You know, my wife's great uncle used to be a member of Stade Français in the 20s (*). When my wife's auntie passed away a few ago ago, I've found his member card. His name was Lucien Besset, member of French Parliement in the 30s...
- Great ! do you know about his rugby career, or has he left some memorabilia ?
- Actually no. But I have an old honour cap. I saved it before the family got rid of it, because for them it was worth nothing...
- Great move, do you know what kind of cap it is ?
- Well no, it's white, with a blue + a red ring. And a golden tassle as well. Any idea ?
- aaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggghhhh (kind of orgasmic cry that memorabilia collectors will understand), you're just describing an early French international cap, possibly the #1 item on my wish list (with a pre-ww1 French jersey, and a pre-ww1 rugby kit of Stade Français...)
A few seconds later (yes, Ludo has dedicated wifi for his guests in #StadedeFrance...), I was showing Fred photographs of his Great-Uncle who earned two caps for France in 1914. Below are the guys who played vs Poulton's England in Colombes on April 13th 1914 (13-39). Besset is standing in the middle, left to team captain and ball holder Maurice Leuvielle. That day Besset, playing inside center, converted two tries for France... without knowing that five of his teammates will soon die in the turmoil of WW1 and that his rugby career, like many of other promising players, has ceased that very day :-(
(*) The funny thing is that Besset had never been a member of Stade Français, except some kind of honorary membership after his sporting career like the document Fred showed me. Besset was a player, and then an official - President after ww2, of SCUF (Sporting Club Universitaire de France). Please read his full bio here on SCUF website, and check this team picture of the finalists of 1913 French Championship lost to Aviron Bayonnais. Fly half Besset sits on the ground, just below his captain and scrum-half André Theuriet.
Cool story, isn't it ?