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Death of Lucien Mias, legendary second row and icon of French rugby

A few weeks after the death of André Boniface, another legend of French rugby passed away.

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Death of Lucien Mias, legendary second row and icon of French rugby

A few weeks after the death of André Boniface, another legend of French rugby passed away. Lucien Mias, legendary second row and icon of the French XV, has died at the age of 93. A player for Narbonne then Mazamet, he became the 400th French international and wore the French team jersey 29 times between 1951 and 1959, wearing the captain's armband six times from 1958 to 1959. With the Blues, he had won the Five Nations Tournament twice, in 1954 and 1959, the first that France won outright.

“For us, the important thing was not to win the Tournament but to come together each time to play a match, do you understand the nuance? It was a good life, it was fabulous. We were rural people, poor, and we stayed in palaces,” he remembered. One of Lucien Mias' greatest feats of arms was being captain of the French XV tour won in 1958 in South Africa (draw then victory).

In the land of the Springboks and total and brutal rugby, the South African press then bowed to “the greatest forward we have ever seen in South Africa”, famous for its most rudimentary helmet. The epic of the Blues was immortalized in the magnificent book Le grand combat du XV de France by Denis Lalanne. He will remain as the first Frenchman (along with the former center of Lourdes and Lyon, Roger Martine) to have triumphed over all the major nations, since he was in the victory against New Zealand in 1954 (3-0).

His international career took place in two parts: 17 selections first between 1951 and 1954 then 12 others between 1957 and 1959. In the meantime, the teacher had completed his medical degree in Toulouse and had specialized, subsequently, in geriatrics. He also founded the “Papidoc” site, dedicated to old age.

A modern second row (1.87 m and 105 kg), he revolutionized the forward game, notably with the invention of the “contact half-turn” and the moving touchline. He was said to be “a tractor with a brain”. In 1960, this trained doctor became the second rugby player to enter the Grévin Museum. He was also a television consultant, briefly, in 1984. In 2011, he was inducted into the Hall Of Fame of World Rugby, the international federation.

Questioned by the French Rugby Federation, Lucien Mias recalled the memories of his first Marseillaise, in January 1951 against Scotland, at just 20 years old. “It was very impressive. You come from a small village and you find yourself like an idiot in front of thousands of spectators. You shed your little tear, obviously, he confided. But we think it's dope, when it's quite the opposite. It even restricts abilities sometimes.” And, while refereeing questions are currently plaguing the beginnings, he had released a scathing: “The referee is like the wind and the rain, he is part of the game. If he is wrong, he is wrong . Point bar. I never had a lot of problems with that.”

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