France Match

Bulletin No. 41, January 1991, introduced the idea of a match against the French and Italians, suggested by the Fédération Française de Croquet, as follows:

Allez-Hoops!

The Fédération Française de Croquet has invited the SCA to send a team to France in May 1991 to compete against a French team, and, providing all arrangements go successfully, a team from Italy.  They would like us to send six players, with handicaps in the range ½ to about 14.  Travel outward is likely to be on 29th or 30th April, and return on 5th or 6th May.  The matches will take place near Bordeaux on Wednesday 1st May, and Friday and Saturday 3rd and 4th May.  The FFC will provide us with accommodation, but other expenses will have to be met by the players, though there is a possibility that the SCA may be able to provide some assistance towards the cost.  If you would like to be considered for the match, please give your name to the Match Secretary, Corla van Griethuysen.  Knowledge of French and a large capacity for wine would be an advantage.

Match scores:

1991

Scottish Select

18

France

6

at Fontenay-le-Comte

1992

Scottish Select

5

France

4

at Bush

1994

Scottish Select

5

France

11

at Fontenay-le-Comte

Players who have participated in this match include:

Colin Dinwoodie

France 91

Dave Farmer

France 92

Alastair Hunter

France 92

Fred Mann

France 94

Brian Murdoch

France 92

Mike Ranshaw

France 91

Colin Rogers

France 91

Malcolm Smith

France 91 92 94

Su Stenhouse

France 92

Basil Townsend

France 91

Charlotte Townsend

France 91 92 94

Rod Williams

France 94

The 1993 and 1995 SCA Handbooks list a team for France 1992 which does not coincide with the photographic evidence in Bulletin 52 – it is the photograph which has been used in compiling this list, showing Dave Farmer instead of Andy Campbell.  There was a match due in 1996 which did not happen.

1991 was cold and wet (according to Malcolm Smith, team captain on that occasion) while 1994 was hot and sunny to welcome the brand-new top-class French lawns, which were used for the WCF World Championship in 1995.  The French presented Malcolm (on behalf of SCA) with a book “Vendee – chemin faisant”, in which he has inscribed the names of members of both teams for those two years.

Reports:

1991:

No report has been found.

1992:

No report has been found, despite the fact that one was promised “later in this Bulletin” in 1993.

30 April – 1 May, 1994 at Fontenay-le-Comte:

(Report by Fred Mann)

Travel

For this match, regarded as a ‘B’ international, there were the usual selection criteria, i.e. willingness to go, and preparedness to meet most of the expenses.  Malcolm Smith, Charlotte Townsend and Rod Williams (one of whom was undoubtedly the team captain) had been to Fontenay before, and Fred Mann, the new boy, qualified because his daughter’s home a Chesham offered a convenient overnight staging-post.

Having left Glasgow Wednesday lunchtime, a 4:15 a.m. start on Thursday got us on the 8:00 ferry and rolling down quiet, sunny French roads after 2 o’clock.  South of Nantes, our road shown on the map had disappeared from the ground, and we did some tiresome ‘windscreen-wiping’ (took several bisques, Ed.) along little roads before at last reaching Fontenay about nine o’clock.  Here over a welcome meal we were greeted by Antoine Raves, President of the French Federation (and Secretary of the European Federation), and a few others, before being distributed among our hosts.

Malcolm’s foresight in insisting on travelling a day ‘early’ was rewarded with a free Friday.  A morning spent driving quietly round some of the pleasant Vendee countryside was followed by a river-bank picnic lunch at Damvix and a leisurely row on the River Sevre afterwards.  Then back to Fontenay for the serious stuff – an hour’s practice on the lawns and a visit to the Intermarche Supermarket to stock up with as much cheap wine as Malcolm calculated his car could carry.

That evening, as Fred walked the half-mile from his hosts’ to the hotel for dinner with Antoine and Francoise (Malcolm’s hostess), the temperature was 25°C (77°F), and this at 8:15!  Saturday dawned almost as hot for the match.

French Lawns

Fontenay’s original ‘ploughed field’ lawns have been abandoned, and six full-sized lawns have been laid at a different part of the Prairie des Sports.  The cost (over £228,000) was founded one-quarter each by the Government, the Region, the District and the Town.  They are to be used for the World Championships in 1995, and are pretty level for new ones.  However they looked faster than they played, and some of us found it difficult to get the striker’s ball up.

Les Enfants Terrible(‘the embarrassing young’ – Oxford Dictionary of Quotations)

On paper, the French team did not look too menacing for level play – Jean-Baptiste Grochain (handicap 6), 16-yr-old Yoann Ravez (5), 12-yr-old Othello Ravez (10) and 18-yr-old Stephane Rouhaud (11).  But four rounds of singles were played and the French won 11-5.

In his first game against Fred, Yoann went to 4-back in turn 5, while younger brother Othello was doing the same to Malcolm in turn 6.  After the lift had been sclaffed, Yoann went round again, embarking on a straight triple peel.  4-back was accomplished; the peelee stuck in penult but was carried through with a perfect half-jump shot; in rover, the stuck peelee was completely cleared by the jump, giving Fred a couple more misses.  Charlotte was the only winner, so much so that the French lad was to play his remaining games as handicap ones.

Auld Alliance

The second round games were divided 2-2, Malcolm and Charlotte being the victors, but the evening was a disaster, with four defeats, albeit two narrowly.  So, very conveniently, the result was known by the time of the formal dinner, in a lakeside restaurant at nearby Mervent.  The French Association had presented a trophy for this international in an earlier year; so on this occasion, Malcolm presented to the Association an ‘Auld Alliance’ Quaich for use as one of its domestic trophies.  This was graciously received by the friendly company of players, officials, hosts and hostesses.

Then it was back to the fourth round on Sunday morning, again halved 2-2.  Rod impressively and Fred adequately broke their ducks, which meant that three Scots had one win each and Charlotte had two.  Yoann completed the triple this time, against Charlotte.  After speeches, and presentation of the International Trophy, we set off on the return journey.  With quiet roads, due to a French Public Holiday, we had time to call in to le Mont St Michel, which is every bit as impressive-looking as post cards imply, and there was still time for a quick vino before the ferry.  Another smooth crossing, breakfast in Chesham, the up the M40, etc., to Ochiltree, Glasgow and Dunfermline before Charlotte, weary by this time, would reach Edinburgh.

Si Jeunesse Savoit, Si Vieillesse Pouvait (‘if youth knew; if age could’ – OQD again)

An enjoyable trip, but an embarrassing defeat by the young French lads.  Are they over-handicapped?  Some of them, surely – not many Scottish 5s would manage five-sixths of two triples in three games.  Most of the Scots have played better, and with a bit of luck, the margin might have been closer, but the French played impressively well.  Of course youngsters don’t understand that roquets might be missed, or that long rolls to the hoop might fail to secure position...  Still, they played with enterprise and verve.

Next time it will have to be the ‘A’ team.  May they enjoy as much as we did the games, the sunshine, the friendliness, the generous hospitality and the excellent arrangements which were laid on for us by the French Association.

 

Results:

Scottish names first

1991:     No detailed results have been found
SCA beat France 18-6

1992:     No detailed results have been found
SCA beat France 5-4

1994:     Advanced rules except where stated
Rod Williams (1½) lost to Jean-Baptiste Grochain (6) -16
Fred Mann (6) lost to Yoann Ravez (5) -26
Charlotte Townsend (7) beat Stephane Rouhaud (11) +23
Malcolm Smith (8) lost to Othello Ravez (10) -15
Rod Williams lost to Yoann Ravez -11
Fred Mann lost to Jean-Baptiste Grochain -6
Charlotte Townsend beat Othello Ravez +13
Malcolm Smith beat Stephane Rouhaud (handicap game) +11
Rod Williams lost to Stephane Rouhaud (handicap game) -11
Fred Mann lost to Othello Ravez -4
Charlotte Townsend lost to Jean-Baptiste Grochain -16
Malcolm Smith lost to Yoann Ravez -18
Rod Williams beat Othello Ravez +21
Fred Mann beat Stephane Rouhaud (handicap game) +10
Charlotte Townsend lost to Yoann Ravez -19tp
Malcolm Smith lost to Jean-Baptiste Grochain -17