20th June 2018, 10:41 | masters
The Masters Rugby League tourists returned from France in the knowledge that they had laid firm foundations for Masters in France with the players from Galia Tots near Perpignan.
The venue was the Ille XIII club at Ille sur Tet, the birthplace of Jean Galia, the founder of Rugby League in France.
The day started with a short ceremony at the Jean Galia Memorial where a floral tribute in the shape of a Rugby ball was laid in the great man's memory.
To commemorate the end of the First World War, 1918-2018, the Masters touring kit features images taken from the conflict along with the iconic poppies.
Another tour could be taking place next year!
Masters referee, Paul Field, delivered a Referee Course, to an enthusiastic audience and two French referees were qualified. The hosts were eager to experience Masters first hand.
In the shadow of the Pyrenees, and in glorious sunshine, the tourists split into two teams to play the first game to demonstrate Masters to the French lads, with Galia Tots playing each tourist team in the following games.
History was made again when a French referee, Patrice took charge of a Masters game for the first time.
"An enjoyable but tiring experience," he maintained afterwards.
The Tourists visit the Memorial
Teams at Ille sur Tets
Galia Tots Chairman and captain on the day, Stefane Verne, was also wildly enthusiastic: "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 today."
There was a good mix of previous tourists and newbies. The social side of the tour. which is so important at Masters. was very enjoyable.
First-time tourist Alan Brinkman from Rylands Masters was full of praise: "I enjoyed it very much. Cracking bunch of lads and lasses! An amazing experience of playing Masters Rugby League in France with the Pyrenees in the background."
Leeds Masters, Graham Blackburn, has been on few Masters tours, including New Zealand and Australia in 2017, was equally enthusiastic: "A very enjoyable tour. I've made a lot of new friends and had a few beers too during a wonderful weekend!"
Day two began with a ceremony conducted by Dave Farrell at the Perpignan War Memorial at which the Masters Tourists read out the names of all the Northern Union players who fell in the Great War and laid a wreath of Poppies and Corn flours (the French “Bluets” symbol of Remembrance).
Dave Farrell presents a tribute to Steff at Jean Galia memorial
The Masters RL touring shirt
At the invitation of Yvan Greseque, President of the Catalan Rugby League, the tourist spent the afternoon relaxed watching the Catalan XIII Cup and Championship Finals at the Giles Brutus Stadium.
Once again, the tourists met up with some the Galia Tots as their Ille XIII Senior won the Championship Final in impressive style.
The Masters tourists have left a legacy behind and have an invitation from the Galia Tots to return in 2019.