What’s happening here?
It’s December 1962 – the exact date is unknown– and legendary France prop and hardman Alfred Roques is messing around with some mates in the courtyard of the Municipal Works in Cahors, as you do during lunch break. Approaching 38 he has been making noises for some years about retiring from Test rugby, but the photographer Jean Tesseyre is an old friend and Roques, in a playful mood, agrees to perform one of his strongman party tricks. In a memorable series of photographs, Tesseyre also captured Roques lifting the front of a car to allow a colleague to change a wheel and then taking on all-comers in a series of arm wrestling contests.
The story behind the picture?
Roques was a son of the soil, born into a farming life. He didn’t give a moment’s thought to fitness training, his daily chores from dawn to dusk honed the physique of an Olympian, and like most farmers he was also as hard as nails mentally. He was not a huge man – 5ft 10inches top whack – but weighed in at a muscle packed 16 stone with not an ounce of surplus body fat. He was decades ahead of his time as a front row athlete.
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