Allan Muhr-Rugby, Tennis and his murder in Neuengamme Concentration camp.

We are currently in the middle of the Six Nations Rugby tournament. Thus far France is heading for a grand slam, but it isn’t quite a done deal as of yet.

I came across a story of a former French Rugby player, I am surprised that so little is known about him.

Allan Muhr, was murdered on December 29 1944, he was starved to death at Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg.

Born to a wealthy Jewish family in Philadelphia in 1882, Allan, who had recently come of age, travelled on his own to France around the turn of the century. “Allan Muhr planned to fully devote himself to sport in Europe,” explains Fréderic Humbert, an expert in rugby history and the curator of the World Rugby Museum who has researched what happened to Allan Muhr. “He could afford to do that as he lived off his family’s assets and never needed to work. Sport therefore became the central element in his life.”

He appears in the 1900 US census, but made a rapid impact on his adopted homeland.

A profile written in 1907 recorded that the newly arrived Muhr enrolled at the prestigious Lycee Janson – taking elementary French classes – purely for the purpose of playing rugby, but injured his shoulder during his first match. In spite of this setback he was rapidly a force at Racing Club, playing second row or prop and earning the nickname ‘the Sioux’ for his origins and distinctive profile.

He evidently had the time and money necessary to devote himself to a range of sporting activities. While his professions are listed as translation and sporting journalism, he does not appear to have been encumbered by the pressing need to earn a living. That 1907 profile reported that “He amazes us because he is not the slave of any bureau chief or other boss or editor, still less of the rulers of the USFSA (the French sporting authorities of the time). He does what he pleases when he pleases.”

At the same time, the profile noted, he was “a slave to his passion for rugby”, besides which his enthusiasms for motoring and tennis were mere pastimes. That passion was rewarded when he was chosen for France’s first ever Test match – against the All Blacks on New Year’s Day 1906. Muhr appears at the back of the French team picture, a skull-capped figure alongside touch judge Cyril Rutherford, the Scot who played such a huge part in the early development of French rugby.

At the same time, Allan was a successful tennis player – even participating in the French championships in 1909. In February 1913, he was an active founding member of the International Tennis Association in London. He also took part in car racing as an amateur and played in a Parisian soccer club. Allan even attempted to establish baseball in France ,but this was unsuccessful.

Playing second-row alongside the French Guyanese Georges Jerome, one of two black players in the team, Muhr did well enough in the 38-8 defeat to retain his place for France’s first ever match against England, on March 22 that year. France lost again, 35-8, but Muhr claimed France’s first try against the old enemy, crossing after brilliant work by Stade Francais centre Pierre Maclos.

During World War I, Allan led a voluntary unit of ambulance drivers who transported the wounded soldiers from the front to the American Ambulance Hospital, which had been founded by Americans in Paris when the war broke out. When the USA entered the war in 1917, this organization was integrated into the US Army, and so Allan also became an officer in the American armed forces.

From 1920, Allan ended his career as an active sportsman and dedicated himself to organizing international competitions and developing the French teams in rugby and tennis. He became the vice chairman of the first European omnisport club, Racing Club de France, and captain of the French “Davis Cup” tennis team, which he led to international success. He also managed the rugby department of the Racing Club and selected the players for the French national rugby team. When the Olympic Games were hosted in France in 1924, Allan was responsible for organizing the competition and conducting the international negotiations.

When war came again in 1939, Muhr reprised his volunteer role with the Red Cross.he was 57 at the time and was married to his Belgian wife Madeleine Braet

After the USA entered the war in 1941, he had to go underground to flee from the German occupying forces. He took his son. Philippe with him. Together with other US citizens and members of the French Resistance, they stayed in Sayat, a small village in the Auvergne, for a year before being captured there by the Nazis on November 21, 1943. they were taken to the camp at Compiegne where they were interrogated. Allan and Philippe were deported to the Neuengamme in May 1944, where Allan was starved to death on December 29,1944. His son Philippe survived the war

Allan’s services to France were not forgotten. After the war he received a posthumous award of the Legion d’Honneur – the least he merited for a life which, while it ended under unspeakably grim circumstances, was one of the most varied and eventful in rugby’s annals.

sources

https://arolsen-archives.org/en/news/a-life-for-sport/

http://en.espn.co.uk/blogs/rugby/story/251813.html

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Happy St Patrick’s Day

paddy

The history of St Patrick, , is a bit sketchy, the exact date of birth is not known .Similarly, the place where St Patrick was born cannot be confirmed. Suffice to say there is a broad agreement that he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the 5th century.And he is regarded  as the founder of Christianity in Ireland.

There are so many theories and books on St Patrick and to do just one blog on the patron saint of Ireland,( also of Nigeria and Montserrat), would do no justice to the man. I am therefor focusing on other Irish historical traditions.

Amhrán na bhFiann or A soldiers song- The Irish Anthem.

Irish_national_anthem

The National Anthem, called ‘The Soldier’s Song’/‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ was written by Peadar Kearney either early in 1910 or late in 1909 (according to an affidavit signed by him in 1926). The music, by Patrick Heeney, is understood to have been composed around the same time. The original English text of ‘The Soldier’s Song’ was first published in Bulmer Hobson’s, Irish Freedom newspaper in 1912. ‘The Soldier’s Song’ was not widely known until it was sung at the GPO during the Easter Rising of 1916.

Liam Ring (Ó Rinn) was responsible for its first translation into Irish in late 1916 and it was published in the Army magazine, An tÓglach, on 3 November 1923. The Executive Council of the Irish Free State, on 12 July 1926, decided to adopt the music of ‘The Soldier’s Song’/‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ as the official National Anthem.

All three men responsible for the National Anthem, Peadar Kearney, Patrick Heeney and Liam Ring (Ó Rinn), were from Dublin’s north inner city and lived within 200 yards of each other.

Ireland’s Call-The Other Irish Anthem

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Rugby is one of the most if not the most popular sports in Ireland, The national Rugby Union’s team consists of players from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.Rugby fans will know that since 1995 two Irish anthem are played at the start of rugby matches.

Even though Ireland’s official anthem is ‘The Soldier’s Song’, it is sensitive for those who have Unionist sympathies in Northern Ireland. This is similar to Northern Ireland’s national anthem which is ‘God Save the Queen’ and which is favoured by those who have nationalist sympathies. All rugby matches are played in the Republic of Ireland and both ‘Ireland’s Call’ and ‘The Soldier’s Song’ are sung. After the first verse is sung, it is followed by a chorus which is also sung in the same key and then repeated in a higher note at the end.

The song came into being in 1995 and was composed and written by Phil Coulter in a bid to merge different Irish traditions. The song was first broadcast in the Kelly Show in Northern Ireland and in the Late Late Show in the Republic of Ireland by Andrew Strong.

boys in green

Today on St Patrick’s Day .Ireland will be playing England in Twickenham,England for the last match of the 6 Nations Championship(which is basically the European Cup for Rugby) and although had already won the championship, if they win today they will have won the grand slam for the 3rd time in history, it will also mean they will win the triple crown( the original trophy when the championship was only played by England,Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

1200px-Stade_de_Twickenham_à_Londres

Although I am a Dutch man(living in Ireland) and know very little about Rugby, on days like today I feel as Irish as any Irish man.

All that is left for me is to wish you all a Happy St Patrick’s day and may the luck of the Irish be upon the National Irish rugby team this afternoon.

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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