July 6, 2015 by Andrew W M Smith
I’ve written before about how important Rugby, Wine and Socialism are in the South of France. I wrote an article in the journal National Identities, called ‘”Je suis socialiste et quinziste “: Rugby, Wine and Socialism in the Aude since 1976′ that said just that.
Rugby has been almost as important to the Midi as its winegrowing, and the Languedoc has long been characterised as an historic area where politics run as red as the plentiful wine quaffed by her iconic rugbymen. Yet the intersections between rugby, wine and Socialism give telling insights into the value of regional identity. The historic nationality of the Languedoc, Occitanisme, has motivated nationalist campaigns for increased autonomy and even secession from France. They have done so in reference to the patrimony of Languedocien heritage, making seamless reference to rugby, wine and Socialism as assets of Southern identity.
Recently, I was trawling for images and came across a Facebook group for the village of Montredon, which included some great pictures. I’ve borrowed the photos to post here (for editorial purposes), though want to credit them properly as well – you can find the group HERE.
Most of their images seem to come from a local exhibition, and most of them show the sort of protest photos I’ve seen a lot of in my research. One jumped out at me, however, as it chimed with the topic of the article I mentioned above – rugby.
Here’s a picture of the Montredon rugby team from 1943. This is a great photo of these young guys, though there’s one of them in particular that is of real interest to me. The youthful figure I’ve highlighted is Andre Castera, the Napoleon of the vines, the Christ of the Corbieres, Candyman in a Cardy… etc etc (see THIS POST)
You can see the team listings in this next close up of the caption (I added the highlighting to save you having to count in).
And… just to refresh your memory, here’s the same guy at a later date, happily working in his vines:
He was the inspirational figurehead behind the rejuventation of winegrowers’ representation in the early 1960s. Under him, the CRAV – the subject of my book – were formed and became a significant force in the Languedoc. Here’s a picture of him surrounded by CRS which, it would seem in the 1960s, was sometimes just as common as him being surrounded by vines.
So there you go! Another little piece of the story behind one of the central characters in my research. Not only that, but it strengthens the findings of research I’ve already produced. Bonanza!