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Letters from Jacques Cochonnet




    Eux-sur-Marquer Provence FRANCE Office of the New Zealand Representative.
    04/05/06 Mes Amis,
    Hélas! Il y a longtemps since I, Didier, wrote to you with les derniéres nouvelles from the piste and from my friend and mentor, that grand old man of boules, Jacques Cochonnet. So long en fait, that some of you will not have heard of Coch, as he likes to be known.


    Coch is Life President of the Société Internationale des Pratiquants de Petanquisme et Jeux Alliés (SIPPJA). In 1995 Coch and his wife Fanny retired to their beloved Eux-sur-Marquer in Provence and opened the now famous school that bears his name. In 1997 he was made Patron of the WPA when the inter-club trophy was named after him.

    But I stray from the point…the other day Coch told me a story about the beginnings of pétanque.


    It is not widely known that in the early 1900s when M. Pitiot was developing the game of pétanque with M. Le Noir, their fiercest critics were a M. Rabat-Joie and a M. Prévôt. These two felt that Pitiot's game lacked structure and set out to change it.


    First they formed an Inaugural Steering Committee with a Chairman and Secretary, who decided that the game would benefit and be taken more seriously if it had a National Association with a National Council, so one was formed with a President and Secretary. At their first meeting it was moved that a code of behaviour be introduced, this was carried by a majority of 1 to 0…the President only being permitted to cast a deciding vote.


    As the game had never had any rules of conduct the Secretary moved that some be borrowed and adapted (carried 1-0). So, a Conduct Rules Committee was set up with a Chairman and Secretary to collect and adapt them and the following 10 rules were presented to and accepted by the National Council (1-0) to be adhered to whenever and wherever the game was played.

    • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's boules.

    • Never play pétanque with a woman you wouldn't like your sister to see you with.

    • After lunch wait two hours before playing pétanque.

    • Always stand when a boule comes into the room.

    • It is forbidden to eat boules on a Friday.

    • Always wash your hands after going to the piste.

    • Ne'er cast a boule 'til May is out.

    • Don't play pétanque under an oak tree during a thunderstorm.

    • Brush your boules after every meal.

    • Look both ways before crossing the piste.

    (NB "Chew your boules thirty times before swallowing" was only voted out (1-0) as it was thought counting would be difficult)
    Sometime later M. Prévôt took over from M. Rabat-Joie (who became Editor of the Newsletter) as National President in accordance with the rules laid down by the Constitution Committee (with a Chairman and Secretary). The position was alternately held by the two of them on an annual cycle until the Match Committee (with a Chairman and Secretary) revoked M. Rabat-Joie's licence for questioning the arbit's decision in the National Singles Championship. With M. Rabat-Joie second and thus last, the arbit, M. Prévôt, went on to become National Champion as he had been on alternate years since the National Association was founded.


    Sadly, when M. Rabat-Joie came to his end, M. Prévôt found there was nobody else to play with and so formed a Winding-up Committee (with a President) but Coch assures me that their heirs and successors still live and carry on in New Zealand. What of Pitiot and Le Noir? Well…their game was fun and thousands of people still enjoy it all over the world when they are allowed to.


    A la prochaine,


    Didier Galimatias


("Jacques Cochonnet" "Didier Galimatias" "L'Ecole Supérieure Internationale Boulytechnique " are copyright and may not be used without permission).


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