Philippe Tissié kicked off France's oval-ball love affair
Biarritz, Bayonne, Pau, Castres, Toulouse and other such cities provide examples that the sport's heartland resides in the traditional southwestern areas of Béarn, Guyenne et Gascogne and elsewhere.
A combination of expatriate Britons and physical education instructors helped stoke passions for the sport in southwestern France.
Writing in his "FRENCH RUGBY FOOTBALL: A CULTURAL HISTORY," Philip Dine credits the southwest's fervor to the work of pioneering phyiscal education proponent DR. PHILIPPE TISSIÉ and and his Bordeaux-based Ligue Girondine de l'Education Physique:
"In Dr. Philippe Tissié, French rugby had found its most influential advocate, and in the south-west it was to find its spiritual home."
I can't read about France's southwest without thinking about the area's favorite sport.
HENRI ROUSSEAU captured some of the early fervor in his painting, "LES JOUEURS DE FOOTBALL," on display at the Guggenheim in New York.
I think about this painting, too, when I read about southwestern France.