This “blasphemous” title is from a French provincial newspaper, “Sud-Ouest”, dated today, March 7, 2018. The article marks the opening of France’s first Rugby museum, inaugurated this last weekend in the capital of the Basque Country, Bayonne. Its principal treasure is a … blood-stained relic of an event 35 years ago, March 19, 1983, when Jean-Pierre Rives presented his guernsey to France’s most popular TV sports journalist, Roger Couderc, after the victory of his team, the “XV de France”, over Wales. The blood is that of the French fullback become the team’s captain, Serge Blanco, whose nose was accidentally broken by Rives during his vigorous tackle of a Welshman. The guernsey, baptized “The Holy Shroud of Rugby”, is now displayed under glass, blood and all, as the museum’s most precious rugby-relic.
I expect that a former prolific contributor of comments to this Blog, Jim – modestly self-baptized “Lumen de lumine” – a ferocious defender of the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin and himself a former Rugby player, will be outraged by this post. (Type “The Shroud of Turin” in the “SEARCH” rectangle to consult the multiple posts already devoted to the Shroud.) But I am simply reporting news I read in the highly respected regional newspaper. Rugby is a religion here. The names of both my former boss, founder of CAPGEMINI and generous supporter of French rugby, the late Serge Kampf, and of the Biarritz champion and national captain, Serge Blanco, are each displayed in giant letters on the two grandstands of the Biarritz stadium. No blasphemy is intended in the newspaper’s title; the Basque Country is one of the most Catholic regions of France. I imagine that fans here would feel that Turin should consider itself honored by the association of its Shroud with theirs.