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Rugby: “He was my big brother, we all tried to copy him”, Jo Maso evokes the legacy of André Boniface

His designated successor.

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Rugby: “He was my big brother, we all tried to copy him”, Jo Maso evokes the legacy of André Boniface

His designated successor. Jo Maso's international career began when that of André Boniface, who was ten years older than him, ended. In March 1966, the XV of France - which then had a series of successes (11 for 3 draws and two defeats) between March 1964 and March 1966 - lost in the Tournament against Wales (9-8). A defeat which will be fatal to a golden generation: coach Jean Prat is dismissed from his functions and four emblematic players will no longer be called up Jean Gachassin, Michel Crauste and the brothers André and Guy Boniface. A big wash which “benefits” young Jo Maso, called to the center of the French attack at barely 22 years old.

“I replaced him in the French team,” Jo Maso told Le Figaro, contacted this Monday. The French team had played in Wales and they should have won and they (the leaders) blamed everything on them. In the French team, we replaced André and Guy (who died in a road accident in 1968), with Léo Lagrange in 1966. They fired him otherwise I would never have played. Far from creating tensions, this handover brought the two men closer together. “He was then very kind to me. We called each other often, we commented on the matches, continues the former French center. He was my big brother, I always called him before international matches.

And the former manager of the XV of France between 1995 and 2011 added: “It was an example. Throughout my career he has given good advice. He was exceptionally efficient, he was magnificent to watch play. I met him when I was 17 and a half years old in Toulon, he came to see the jubilee of the pillar of the RCT, Michel Rocchia. He was fantastic, he told me about the tours of the XV of France in New Zealand. I drank his words. It was a wonderful example.”

Also read “The All Blacks, my ideal game”: the latest confessions of André Boniface, legend of the XV of France

Jo Maso also evokes the legacy of André Boniface, one of the founding fathers of the famous “French Flair” which still continues. “He was recognized all over the world,” he recalls. The first time I went to New Zealand, people only talked to me about André Boniface. I continued to have him on the phone regularly. We were very friends. I had deep admiration for him. I'm so sad."

Jo Maso also recalls the influence his friend “Dédé” had on the game: “He turned the three-quarter game upside down. He always said that it was Jean Dauger (3 selections between 1945 and 1953) who taught him overflow framing. But he was the one who popularized it. He was also a pioneer for cross passes and jump passes. It was wonderful." The generations of international players who followed, lulled by his brilliance, have always praised the progress made in the game thanks to André Boniface. “It was Jean-Louis Bérot (21 selections between 1968 and 1974) who told me the sad news. I then called Didier Codorniou (31 selections between 1979 and 1985) and François Sangalli (21 selections between 1975 and 1977), we are all very sad, confides Jo Maso. He was an example for us all, he was the one who carried the flag of attack. We were all trying to copy him..."

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