The historic trophy has been through some dicey moments in its long history

The wild life of the Bouclier de Brennus Top 14 trophy

At the start of the new season, if you were to glance at the Top 14 trophy – the famous Bouclier de Brennus, the ‘piece of wood’, first competed for in 1892 – you would see the space set out for the 2020 title winner is filled with the words “non disputé” (not disputed). Those words have been used before, during the two world wars.

But after a period of no rugby, in keeping with tradition, the previous champions Toulouse had sent the trophy to master cabinet maker Pierre Armengaud, from Belpech in Aude, to be restored. Asked about the state of the trophy, his response to RTL roughly translates as: “It was massacred, with damaged edges and blows everywhere. I suspect them (Toulouse) of belly-sliding on the medal.”

Related: Top 14 2020-21 Season Preview

The wild life of the Bouclier de Brennus Top 14 trophy

Big smooch: Stade Français after winning in 2000 (Getty Images)

The quip about a ride an the old trophy may at first sound odd. But read back at the treatment of the Bouclier de Brennus through the years and it becomes apparent that anything goes after the Top 14 final concludes. And, as you can see from the antics of Stade Français back in 2015, Armengaud is right to consider slip-n-slide an option…

There are some legendary tales of neglect and abuse where the old plank is concerned. Most recently, it made headlines when young fly-half Romain Ntamack took it down to the beach and used it as a makeshift surfboard.

It was not the first time it had been used this way, though. In fact Ntamack’s father, former France international Émile, has spoken of how Toulouse had used it this way in the past. There is also tale of Perpignan taking the trophy to iconic surfer Kelly Slater’s beach in 2009. Then there is the below image of scrum-half Ludovic Radosavljevic taking it into the jacuzzi in 2017, after a Clermont triumph.

In Castres, there are more than a few noteworthy moments. They have used the award in service to diners in more ways than one in the past – from dishing up steak-frites on it, to using it to clear plates.

According to Franceinfo, Castres also once misplaced the trophy for two days. In 2018, Laurent Travers (coach at the time, though now with Racing 92) told them of their experience with the trophy: “There was never any doubt, we knew that it could not be stolen: it is quite heavy, it is not something that you can put in your pocket. On the other hand, someone could have it at home … “

However, the outlet later explained they believe the trophy was discovered in the club’s swimming pool, with Ibrahim Diarra quoted as saying it “went under the showers, in the swimming pool… ” but that all was fine in the end.

Related: The entertaining aftermath of Bayonne’s promotion to the Top 14

It has ended up in the water before.

The wild life of the Bouclier de Brennus Top 14 trophy

Overjoyed: A throwback to Béziers with the trophy in 1971 (Getty Images)

This time we look to Toulon, where we have seen yacht parties with the trophy in recent years.

“At the end of the evening, in the euphoria and general jubilation, the shield ended in the harbour of Toulon,” Aubin Hueber, former Toulon nine told L’Obs in 2016, of club festivities back in 1992.All the players, as one man, dove in so that the Brennus did not sink.” 

Staying with Toulon, in 2014 team manager Tom Whitford posted this pic of the trophy snuggling in for a night’s sleep alongside his wife.

There is also a well-known image from the L’Equipe newspaper, of Perpignan centre David Marty sleeping with the trophy as well, back in 2009.

And finally, what about this one? In 2014 it was discovered that Toulouse had cheakily slapped a club sticker on the back of the plaque of winners, with a scribble above the logo saying “C’est le nôtre” – “It’s ours.”

After a cancelled season, that is still true heading into 2020-21 action.

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