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Gallaher Trophy needs to return home, say All Blacks

Photosport

NZPA     26 Nov 2009     Photosport

It was the first time in the trophy's nine-year existence -- named after the revered 1905 Originals captain -- that France had won it.

Last weekend the All Blacks retained the Hillary Shield with a 19-6 win over England, so in a cabinet without a World Cup or Investec Tri Nations Trophy, there is plenty of room for more.

"The trophy's pretty important to us, and it hurts that it's sitting here.

We can sit it on top of Sir Ed, that'd be great," assistant coach Wayne Smith said.

In just their second test against France in Marseille after a 33-42 defeat in 2000, All Blacks management were keen to emphasise to their players the importance of the bustling port city to New Zealanders.

Gallaher, who was killed at Passchendaele during World War 1, was among those who would be mentioned in the buildup. The 2000 All Blacks visited his grave in Belgium, and the 2005 tourists visited his birthplace in Ireland.

"Marseille was a pretty active area during the war. A lot of troops from Gallipoli came here before they were sent up to the front," Smith said.

"There were a few Kiwis buried here. There was a lot of activity here in the push forward to Passchendaele, or wherever the front was at the time."

A keen historian, Smith also spoke of the woman recognised as one of New Zealand's war heroines, Nancy Wake, who had strong connections with Marseille and whose biography was penned by Australian writer and former Wallabies player Peter FitzSimons.

Wake was the Allies' most decorated servicewoman of World War 2, and the Gestapo's most-wanted person. She was codenamed "The White Mouse" because of her ability to elude capture.

Said Smith: "She ran away from home in Sydney and ended up here and married a wealthy guy in Marseille, and when she went to fight in the Resistance he got captured and tortured by the Nazis because he wouldn't give up her position.

"It's good to know those things and be able to honour them in your own little way."