“COME again, please!”
That’s the message from the Galia Tots Masters side following a first visit to Perpignan by Great Britain’s Masters tourists.
Games were played in the shadow of the Pyrenees, at the Ille XIII club at Ille sur Tet, the birthplace of Jean Galia, the celebrated founder of Rugby a Treize in France.
The first day opened with floral tributes being laid at the Jean Galia Memorial and the Masters – whose kit featured images from the Great War, and poppies, to commemorate the centenary of the end of the conflict – then played a match amongst themselves, in order to demonstrate the Over 35s game to their hosts.
The Galia Tots, having picked up on the rules, then took on both of the visiting sides after Masters’ referee Paul Field had delivered a Referee Course.
Newly-qualified French referee Patrice controlled one game and reflected: “An enjoyable but tiring experience” while Galia Tots Chairman and captain Stefane Verne enthused: “That was superb! We want to play more Masters. The sunshine today was the Masters Rugby League the English Masters brought us on the pitch.”
Meanwhile debut tourist Alan Brinkman of Rylands said: “I enjoyed it very much, what a cracking bunch of lads and lasses!
“It was an amazing experience, playing Masters Rugby League in France with the Pyrenees in the background.”
Leeds Masters’ Graham Blackburn, a veteran of last year’s trip to New Zealand and Australia, added: “What an enjoyable tour. I’ve made a lot of new friends and had a few beers too, during a wonderful weekend!”
A ceremony was conducted the following day at the Perpignan War Memorial when Dave Farrell of the Masters Tourists read out the names of Northern Union players who fell in World War 1 and laid a wreath of poppies and cornflowers. The tourists, as guests of Yvan Greseque, President of the Catalan Rugby League, subsequently watched the Catalan XIII Cup and Championship Finals at the Giles Brutus Stadium, before accepting an enthusiastic invitation to return in 2019.