Les Bleus and All Blacks pay homage to fallen soldiers [fr]
On the eve of the match which will bring France’s first XV against the All Blacks in Paris, French and New Zealand rugby players paid homage to those soldiers who fell during the First World War.
An unprecedented event, on Wednesday 6th November at 6.30pm, an All Blacks delegation and the captain of the French team, Thierry Dussautoir, participated in the rekindling of the flame ceremony, underneath the Arc de Triomphe. They were accompanied by the French Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Kader Arif, the Minister for Sports Valérie Fourneyron and the Ambassador of New Zealand to France, Rosemary Banks.
« France owes its history to this engagement too” expressed Kader Arif, referring to the 128,000 New Zealand soldiers who came to fight on the French side. He also paid homage to the 12,500 New Zealand soldiers who fell on the Western Front; a reminder that New Zealand also paid a heavy price during this war.
Saturday’s test match will be another powerful moment of remembrance to commemorate New Zealand soldiers and rugby players who died during the Great War. On this occasion, each team will wear the commemorative symbol of the First World War; the cornflower for the French team and the poppy for the All Blacks.
France and New Zealand are working together to prepare for the First World War centenary commemorations. The New Zealand Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Chris Finlayson was in Paris on the 17th and 18th of October on the invitation of Kader Arif to participate in an international seminar for the centenary of the First World War. (In French.)
To find out more about the First World War centenary commemorations, you can consult the Centenary Mission website or New Zealand’s program for the First World War centenary commemorations.