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BOB PORISSE

Sale & Yorkshire

  

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Bob Porisse was one of the great rugby characters of the 1950s. During a rugby career spanning a dozen years he entertained the crowds following Sale or Yorkshire with his typical front row exploits. He had a typical fiery Latin temperament and this together with a formidable competitive streak ensured that whenever 'burly' Bob Porisse took the field, the rugby was never going to be dull. 

Bob was born in 1928, in the French town of Lille, the son of a French father and Belgian mother. When he was 3 years old Bob's father opened a spinning and combing mill in Lancashire, the family followed Porisse senior to England and set up their new home just over the border in the Yorkshire town of Saddleworth (boundary changes have sine re-located Saddleworth in Lancashire). Young Robert's early school days were spent at Oldham Hulme Grammar School but it was at Ratcliffe College in Leicester where Porisse junior had his first taste of rugby. As a regular in the first team at college Bob welcomed the opportunity to mix it with the other boys and as his confidence grew so did his ability on the field. 

Ratcliffe College, Leicester

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Together with brother Julien

On leaving college it was into the family business for Bob. The Mossley Wool Combing and Spinning Company welcomed him and he worked diligently throughout the week. Weekend's however, were a different story, Bob's brother Julien was at the time commanding a regular spot with Manchester side Sale. Ever on the look out for some adventure, Porisse joined his older brother on the trips to Manchester for training and matches and soon he forced his way into the Sale first XV. Regarded as a 'mobile' prop in the true tradition of a French forward, Bob often found himself crossing the line in his early seasons at the Brooklands ground, scoring a try in the corner or 'bursting through several tackles to touchdown'. He was also a great place kicker and when the regular out-half was unavailable he took over the kicking duties, winning many games for the team. The Porisse 'speciality' was to land a penalty goal or conversion with the last kick of the match. 

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Above is a summary of the 1955/6 season which appeared in The Guardian newspaper. In the season's statistics Bob scored 1 try, 1 penalty goal and 5 conversions for a total of 19 points, his only mention in the summary credits him with "stalwart support" to captain Barker.

 

Although playing for a Cheshire side he caught the eye of the Yorkshire selectors and was chosen to play for the white rose county against Durham on 18th November 1950. Once again a regular place beckoned and Bob became the first Yorkshire forward to reach 50 appearances. Amongst these were two County Championship finals, a victory over East Midlands in 1953 and defeat against a strong Devon side in 1957. Other representative honours came when Bob was chosen in the North Eastern Counties (Yorkshire, Northumberland & Durham) side to face Bob Stuarts 1953/4 All Blacks at Bradford. Although losing 16-0 the match was not as one sided as the score line suggests. Vivian Jenkins of 'The Guardian' championed the efforts of the Northern forwards, in his post match commentary he scribed "On the evidence of the score, two goals and two tries to nil it might seem that the All Blacks had a fairly easy passage, but that was far from being the case. For a long time the counties held their own in every particular phase of the game. their forwards, far from being awed by their opponents' reputation bundled into them wholeheartedly and I saw for the first time a number of players who, I am surprised have not attracted the attention from national selectors. Cadzow, for instance the Edinburgh Wanderers second row forward; JE Frater, the Northern RFC lock, Porisse a Frenchman who plays for Sale at prop forward................."  

 

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Playing against Scottish Co-optimists. Bob is captaining Yorkshire, he can be seen holding the ball (partially covered) in the middle row.

 

Although international honours did escape this great player, perhaps the fact that he always regarded himself as a Frenchman first and foremost contributed to this. Had he thought of himself as an Englishman then a cap would have surely been his. Playing alongside Eric Evans, a regular English international hooker of the 1950s and captain of the 1957 English Grand Slam team would surely have given him many an opportunity to impress the selectors. Alas, the fact that Bob did not play regular rugby in France meant that in the days before televised rugby he was seldom, if ever seen by the French selectors and was therefore never given the opportunity to represent his beloved tricolours. 

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Captain of Sale 1956/7

A dozen happy years were spent playing for Sale, during this time, Bob captained the club for two seasons, 1956/7 & 1957/8. A season later, he dislocated his hip during a game and was prematurely forced to retire due to this injury. After such a long enjoyable career Porisse was unable to hang up his boots. Playing again was out of the question so the likable Frenchman ran the line as touch judge for the club he had so proudly represented. 

  

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Bob the touch judge, circa 1970s

 

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Pictured back row right on this 1970s photo

Shortly after his retirement from the game, Bob met wife Judith and they were blessed with two bouncing baby girls Suzanne & Nicole. Bob devoted himself to the family and he stayed with the family business until his retirement in 1976. They continued to live in the family home in Saddleworth. Bob passed away in 2002. 

The World Rugby Museum pays tribute to Bob Porisse.  

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The French Question

HIGHLIGHTS FROM BOB'S CAREER.............................

 

THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL 1953 - YORKSHIRE v EAST MIDLANDS

  

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Team photo  - Northern Group champions 1953 Match report Programme front cover programme - team line ups, autographed Text from part of an newspaper feature in the Yorkshire Evening Post by their rugby writer Charles Scatchard. The article covers his time as a reporter at the post from 1934 - 1981. His favourite match in all this time is the county championship final in 1953. 

 

NORTH EASTERN COUNTIES v ALL BLACKS 1953

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NE Counties v All Blacks match report line out - Bob is No8 with his back to the camera  programme team line ups Report NE Counties v All Blacks photo - Bob is No8 with his back to the camera

 

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL 1957 - DEVON v YORKSHIRE

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Pictured on train station prior to departure for Plymouth. Bob is 4th from right in the back row. autographed dinner menu

 

R. F. OAKES' MEMORIAL GAME 1957

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The teams line up Exactly who was RF Oakes ? Programme front cover Foreword - including a history of the Oakes match Foreword - continued Team line-ups

 

OPENING OF SALE'S NEW CLUBHOUSE 1957

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Match programme for a celebration game between an Eric Evans XV and Jack Heaton's XV for the opening of Sale's new clubhouse in 1957, the programme includes the good wishes of the presidents of various unions and former players. A 4 page history of the club is accompanied by photographs including one of Bob, click on the thumbnails to view the text pages of this programme. 

 

BOB PORISSE GALLERY

Yorkshire

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Leading Yorkshire caps, taken from the centenary history of the Yorkshire Rugby Union published in 1969  Selection letter and itinerary for the match against Cheshire 26th November 1955. Bob makes the papers Telegram - congratulations on your 50th cap. Yorkshire v Middlesex 9/2/57 - won 11-3 Yorkshire v Lancashire 10/12/55 - won 13-0 Yorkshire team - date and match unknown  Scottish Co-optimists v Yorkshire & match report

 

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Yorkshire team groups  - dates and & matches  unknown

 

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Yorkshire team against Ulster in Belfast 1953 - Yorkshire won the match 12-3 Yorkshire v Northern Command 17th October 1956

 

Sale

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Sale team group match action Sale v Huddersfield - Bob kicks goals match action Charity match at Heaton Moor in aid of the Playing Fields Association.    match action  Gosforth beaten by 3 penalty goals towards the end Sale team group

 

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Sale team group Eric Evans, front row comrade and friend.  Sale defeat New Brighton thanks to the kicking of Porisse Bob leaping high to gain possession for Sale. Sale v Broughton Park, Christmas Day 1948, Bob appears in the second row for Sale. Early fan mail, dated 1949 Manchester Guardian cartoonist Ian Peterson captures Bob kicking his boot over the posts. Artist Sabine visits Sale, Bob is pictured top right.  The internationals at Sale, brother Julien gives up the game for golf but Bob soldiers on !

 

 

How Bob came to feature in this advert for Erasmic Shaving Creams, we do not know !!!.....one thing we do know, he was born to be a star !!!!!  

 

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Rugby World History of Sale with a brief mention of Bob, here's an extract - "Harry Gallaher, previously captain of London Irish and an experienced Middlesex cap, led the team in 1949 and 1950. About this time two other great forwards began to make their mark, Bob Porisse, later captain of the club and Yorkshire, for whom he played 53 times, and Tom Barker a product of Northampton, who added 20 Lancashire caps to the 6 he won for East Midlands. He also had an England trial." 

   Thank you for visiting our page on the life and career of Bob Porisse, if you are able to contribute any stories, photos or information to this page, please email us at info@rugbyrelics.com

 

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