Alfred Mayssonnié was the first international rugby player to be killed during the Great War. Known to his teammates as ‘Maysso’ he was as an influential play-making half-back and one of Stade Toulouse’s founder members.
In 1908 he became Toulouse’ first international player and went on to feature in the French side’s first competitive outing in the 5-Nations Championship, against Wales in 1910. In 1912 he helped Toulouse to their first French Championship.
In 1914 he joined the French war effort as an adjudant with the 67th Infantry Division, which became engaged in the Battle of the Marne and the defence of Paris. Maysso was killed in action on the second day of the battle near to Verdun whereupon his Stade Toulouse teammate and club captain, Paul Mounicq, carried his body to a safe place for burial. Three days later a small group of Toulousain returned to give Maysso a proper burial. He was buried facing Toulouse and his townsmen made a red and black tie, his team colours, out of the red tobacco purse and black notebooks that they carried in their pockets.
In 1925 a memorial called ‘l’Herakles’ was erected in Toulouse in honour of all fallen French sportsmen. It features a bronze relief of Maysso and is honoured every year on November the 11th.
The World Rugby Museum would like to thank Frederic Humbert and rugby-pioneers.com for researching this article.