Rugby during the 1st World War
From the outset of the conflict, rugby is played on the front areas and is supported by a lot of soldiers who have a very positive view about this activity. It promotes team spirit and is considered an excellent training well suited for military objectives. Rugby strengthens physical and mental resistance and hardens men to pain.
Yet after months of conflict, many rugby players are killed on the front and national officials, within the USFSA, are seriously worried about the future of this business. A commission is created and creates international meetings with the British, New Zealanders and Australians, at the back of the front.
These meetings attracted many people, helped the friendship between soldiers of different nationalities and allowed a revival of rugby throughout the French territory. A French team played a first match on April 1917 against a New Zealand national team in Vincennes, and nearly 60 000 spectators assisted at the “Velodrome” de Vincennes. This meeting promoted a popular enthusiasm for rugby. Afterwards, other international meetings took place and thus attracted new players.
After the conflict, many monuments were built to honor the memory of rugby men like the
Stade Toulousain, which had 81 players that fell on the battlefield.