June 9, 2012 : This afternoon, Stade Toulousain and RC Toulonais will play the final of French championship. There's a lot a expectations around this game... two high places of French rugby... passionate fans on both side... Red & Black for everybody !
Sorry for reposting this old note... I'm leaving to Stade de France right now and have no time to write down a new story ;-)
Toulon ! a high place of French rugby... tons of stories about tough players and passionate fans (yes, Christian, this post is for you...)... today, an amazing team of ruggers from all around the world (Joe van Niekerk, Jonny Wilkinson, Sonny Bill Williams, Felipe Contepomi, etc... managed by Philippe St André)
My postcard (large pic here) shows brand new Stade Mayol in 1923 - a great stadium built in downtown Toulon in 1920-22, and named after French singer Felix Mayol who financed it (*) - hosting a game between Toulouse "Champion de France" wearing Red & Black colours, and Toulon "Champion du Littoral" (**) wearing... Red & Black colours...
A story (though not confirmed...) explains that Toulon had elected such Red & Blacks colours to mimick Toulouse... the team that was "ruling" French rugby after WW1... Some even say that Toulon first rugby kits were provided by the Stade Toulousain, hence the same jerseys...
The game played on the postcard on May 20th 1923 is most likely an exhibition, played just one week after Toulouse managed to win French championship vs Bayonne on May 13th... a poor 3-0 game played in Colombes under heavy rain... All stats (in French) are here at finalesrugby.com. Let's notice a very impressive list of international ruggers on Toulouse side (Jaurreguy, Bordes, Galau, Lubin-Bebrère, Bayard, Bioussa, Larrieu) and let's also notice that this game was the last game of Bayonne legend Harry Owen Roe as fullback, aged 38... Below are the famous "Toulousains" in 1923... in Red & Black (larger pic here)
Back to Mayol, you could also notice a building behind the stands - on the right - partly showing one the most famous French advertising prints from all times : "Ripolin Brothers"... not red, not black, but advertising for Ripolin colour paints...
credit Elliot Miesse
Let me finish with a not-so-serious question : did the crowd in Toulon sing the "Pilou Pilou" in the 1920s ? For those who don't know, "Pilou Pilou" is a kind of "war cry" sung (shouted...?) by the crowd in Toulon at the beginning of each game... the words are loosely inspired by All Blacks hakas, whereas the chorus goes like :
Parce que Toulon - Rouge ! Because Toulon - Red!
Parce que Toulon - Noir ! Because Toulon - Black !
Parce que Toulon - Rouge & Noir ! Because Toulon - Red & Black !
Sing it here ... with a 50,000 crowd last year vs Toulouse (in Marseilles, where Toulon sometimes exports its top games...)
(*) as Mayol wrote in his biography "Or, à Toulon, où la jeunesse est particulièrement active et vigoureuse, nous n'avions pas le moindre terrain utilisable... Seul demeurait un vélodrome désaffecté, où nul n'allait jamais, qui ne servait plus à rien et qui me paraissait s'ennuyer autant que nos aspirants sportsmen... Alors, mon Dieu, c'était tout simple, j'ai acheté le vieux vélodrome ! J'y donnais moi-même le premier coup de pioche, le 26 juillet 1920..." (this quote and picture : credit to RCT website)
(**) "Champion du Littoral" meaning Champion of Mediterranean seaside vs Marseilles, Montpellier etc...
NB : shame on me... I can't refrain from linking to one of the worst-but-famous French song from the 80s... Jeanne Mas "En Rouge et Noir" (in Red & Black)... shame !!