The "friendship postcard" (1989): Greetings from the French team from Twickenham!
March 1989. For the fourth time in a row, the French team won the Five Nations tournament. A high-quality performance it wanted to make clear was in part due to Societe Generale, which itself had just won a bitter stock-market battle following its privatisation.
Saturday 4 March, 1989. There was a great atmosphere at Twickenham that afternoon. On this penultimate weekend of the Five Nations tournament, the home team faced France. The two teams walked out onto the pitch to thunderous cheers and applause from the 62,000 or so spectators. God Save the Queen followed La Marseillaise. Still unbeaten in that year's tournament, Philippe Sella and his teammates were looking to win the Grand Slam, but the better organised and more forceful English dashed these dreams and beat the French 11 - 0. Having won the previous three tournaments, the French rugby players now knew where they stood: in a fortnight against Scotland, they would have to up their game to win another trophy. Time to regroup. However, despite losing to England, they didn't forget to pay tribute to Societe Generale, partner of the FFR (French Rugby Federation) since 1987 and sponsor of each of the French team's matches.
Following the match against England, the players decided to send a "friendship postcard" to Marc Viénot, the Societe Generale group's Chairman and CEO (photo below), with every player signing the card. Truth be told, this initiative was not insignificant. It took place at a time when Societe Generale had just definitively beaten off a stock-market attack that had threatened its very foundations and its legal independence – and the French players, grateful for the Bank's support, wanted to pay tribute to this victory.
Meanwhile, back on the rugby pitch, the Twickenham nightmare was forgotten as the French players walked out at the Parc des Princes on 18 March, refreshed and raring to go. Led by their captain, Pierre Berbizier, the French players showed off their attacking style and dominated Scotland, winning the game 18 - 3. An intense match with three tries for France, Serge Blanco being the game's star player. Voted "Talent d'Or" by French TV viewers, the French back ended up as the tournament's top scorer. Providing steadfast support for the French team, Societe Generale now knew that the converse was also true.
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