French Rughy Great Andre Boniface Is Dead


Andre Boniface, one of French rugby‘s greatest players in the 1950s and 1960s, died in Bayonne on Monday at the age of 89, his family told AFP.

The epitome of French flair, Boniface’s career was inextricably linked with that of his younger brother and often centre partner Guy: together they epitomised the notion of ‘French flair’.

Andre made the first of his 48 international appearances in 1954 with the last of those coming 12 years later in 1966, by which time he had helped France to the Five Nations title on four occasions.

France, in fact, played 90 times during his span as an international player, showing how Andre had a knack for rubbing officialdom up the wrong way.

“It was as if he were chosen by fate to crystallise the conflicts of French rugby, beloved by the press and public, but distrusted by the selectors,” wrote rugby paper Midi-Olympique.

He also guided his local club Mont-de-Marsan to their only French league title in 1963, kicking a penalty and a drop in the tight 9-6 win over his old team Dax.

Guy was alongside him for club and country and his death in a car accident when he was just 30 was to leave Andre with “the only scar of my life”.

“When Guy died, the pair became mythical, emblems of lost talent and rugby martyrdom,” wrote veteran French rugby writer Daniel Herrero.

Born on August 14, 1934, Andre Boniface grew up in the rugby mad south-west of France, firstly playing for Dax and then joining their bitter rivals Mont-de-Marsan aged just 17.

He made his France debut as a 19-year-old in 1954 as France shared the Five Nations title with England and Wales.

A month later, his second cap marked France’s first ever victory over New Zealand, before they captured a maiden outright Five Nations crown in 1959.