World Rugby Hall of Fame - Induction No.100 - Marcel Communeau (Beauvais, Stade Francais, France) 1885-1971

One of 25 legends inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame at Wembley Stadium, London, on 20 September, 2015.

Born: 11 September, 1885 in Beauvais, France
Died: 26 June, 1971 in Beauvais, France

Born in Beauvais and the son of a local businessman, Communeau started playing rugby with his local club whom he captained. He eventually joined the Stade Français club in 1905 and was in the team defeated by Stade Bordelais (Bordeaux) in the French Championship final, the first of three consecutive defeats at the hands of the seemingly invincible Bordeaux team.

Thankfully Stade won at the fourth attempt against their arch rivals, in 1908, capturing their eighth French Championship title since the inception of the competition in 1892 and the last until 1998. 

Communeau made his international debut in France’s first ever official international against the visiting All Blacks in January 1906. It was the first of his 21 international selections for France, of which a record of 18 were as captain. Communeau, who played regularly in the back row, and his teammate Gaston Lane were the first French players to play 10 games for Les Bleus, while Communeau became the first Frenchman to appear in 20 matches.

Communeau was the captain when the French played their first ever match in the Five Nations Championship in 1910. Communeau gained national hero status in 1911 when he led France to a 16-15 victory against Scotland, the team’s first win in the Five Nations. His last match for France was against Wales in 1913, the 12th match of his Five Nations career.

During the war, Lieutenant Communeau joined squadron C4 of the French Air Force but was injured in July 1915. Following his return from hospital he joined the headquarters of the 3rd Army Corps. He was promoted to Lieutenant and won the Military Cross for bravery in 1918.

The Beauvais club named its rugby stadium after him and holds an annual tournament for the Marcel Communeau Cup for Schools and University students, attended by more than 3,000 hopefuls.