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France Celebrates The World Cup With The Gift Of A Statue

France Celebrates The World Cup With The Gift Of A Statue To Wellington

French art promotes character-building through rugby

by Anne Russell

Celebrating the unveiling of France's rugby statue from left to right are (unknown), French rugby union player Jeff Tordo, NZRFU's Steve Tew, (unknown), sculptor Stéphane Cipre, Francis Etienne, (unknown).

October 2, 2011 (Wellington) - Wellington has been given another rugby-themed public statue, in addition to the one near Civic Square by Weta Workshop. The second statue, located outside the New Zealand Rugby Union on Hinemoa St, was created by French sculptor Stéphane Cipre in collaboration with French rugby union player Jeff Tordo. It was officially unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday the 1st of October, and was inaugurated by the French Ambassador, Francis Etienne.

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The statue, made from aluminium and cast iron, stands 3m60cm tall and weighs two tons. Titled "Les contre-valeurs du rugby" (translated as "the opposites of rugby's values"), it depicts two rugby players in a scrum against a wall of words: disrespect, lack of discipline, selfishness, drugs, cheating, racism, and individualism. "We wanted to base these words on the values we find in the sport which we share outside the sports," said a spokesperson for the artist. Rugby is seen as a positive force for society, promoting unity of shared ideals and bringing people together regardless of nationality.

Click images for big versions

Despite the competitive nature of the Rugby World Cup, the French visitors have met nothing but friendship from New Zealand fans. As the spokesperson said, the one team the French want to see win (after themselves, of course) is the All Blacks.

The ceremony included an introduction by New Zealand Rugby Union President Steve Tew, followed by a few words in both English and French from Ambassador Etienne, and a speech by Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon. Finally, the crowd moved outside to the statue, where it was blessed with a Maori speech and waiata. The artist was presented with a signed rugby shirt. Today, at least, the values of rugby were celebrated as the real RWC winners.


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