The story of Robert Aubert-Puig aka Puig-Aubert is one of the truly great stories in Rugby League.
His real name was actually Aubert Puig, but when he signed as a teenager for AS Carcassonne, there were so many other better-known players with the surname Puig that a local newspaper editor printed his name back-to-front to avoid confusion. It stuck and, ironically, he became the most famous of them all.
His nickname was “Pipette”, in reference to his smoking habits, which at several stages saw him smoking on the field. Quite famously in a game against Wigan, he actually caught the ball whilst holding a cigarette in his other hand.
While he often had unusual habits for a sportsman, there was no denying his talent, he was a master at kicking in play and in overall attack he was both unorthodox and unpredictable.
Aside from his playing skill, he developed a reputation based on his somewhat eccentric attitude or charismatic manner. He was known to not tackle a player if he believed it would demonstrate the fault of his team-mates for not previously making the tackle, a cause of some controversy.
During his time with Carcassonne he won winning five championships, in 1945, 1946, 1950 and 1952. He later moved to XIII Catalan, where he picked up a further championship.
The pinnacle of Aubert’s career was on the 1951 tour of Australasia, when he played in 25 of France’s 29 matches, and scored a record 221 points, outdoing the British great Jim Sullivan.
Puig-Aubert’s performances in 1951 earned him his country’s Champion of Champions title – the first time a footballer from any code had been so honoured.
In November 2000 a statue was unveiled dedicated to Puig Aubert, the most famous French Rugby League player in the games history. The statue is cast in Bronze, weights 300 kilograms and is 1.7 meters tall. It is situated at the Albert Domec Stadium in Carcassonne,
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