Ulster Rugby vs Ospreys

ORLEANS RFC VISIT KINGSPAN STADIUM The Nevin Spence Centre welcomed its first overseas visitors from French club Orleans RFC on Friday 28th August 2015. They have been visiting the province every two years in a tradition stemming back to World War II.


The story goes... During WWII a bomber was shot down over France and landed in a marsh area. The airmen were all killed, one of which was a gunner named Marks from Portadown... The local resistance recovered the bodies and buried them in the local churchyard. Unfortunately they were caught and were executed. Many years later a memorial service was held in the same churchyard in France and was attended by the brother of the gunner named Marks, his name was John Marks, and he happened to be President of Portadown Rugby Club at the time. During the service he got talking to a man called Daniel Mallard whose brother was one of the resistance fighters being remembered at the same service and who at the time was very much involved in Orléans Rugby Club in France. (www.rcorleans. com)

As usual, rugby men seem to migrate towards one another and after some conversation they decided that a team from Orleans would come to play in Portadown. They did, and so the tradition was born. Both the ‘originals’ are unfortunately no longer with us, but ever since, a team from Portadown travel to Orleans every other year to play the return fixture to play for ‘La Cup de L’amité’ or ‘The Friendship Cup’, presented many years ago by John Marks. The role of the cup is to ensure that all old and new friendships are set aside for 80 minutes each year, to be vigorously reinstated afterwards over a few Guinness or Vin Rouge, depending on the nationality of the hosts for that particular match!

It was great to welcome players from both Orleans and Portadown RFC last Friday for a tour of Kingspan Stadium and The Nevin Spence Centre.


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