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Rugby legend Tom Smith joins Bergerac


ewly promoted Bergerac Rugby Club have been making a number of signings this summer as they look to bolster the club before the new campaign in the Fédérale 2, France’s 4th division of rugby. The latest addition is former Scotland and Lions prop Tom Smith, who has joined the club as the forwards’ coach. Patrick Tourenne will remain as the backs’ coach. Tom Smith, who was capped 61 times by Scotland, arrives from Lyon Rugby Club where he was the forwards’ coach for the 2012/2013 season. “He was an iconic player for his country,” said Régis Lansade, president of the USB (Union sportive Bergerac). “To replace [former coach] Jean-Michel Maillé, we were looking for someone experienced who could guarantee continuity. Tom Smith is a very nice guy and I am sure that the move will work very well.” Tom Smith is a legend of the game and many Scottish rugby fans will argue he is the greatest loosehead prop to ever play for Scotland, although David Sole may run him close for that honour. He first played for Scotland in 1997 and was picked for the British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa later that same year, despite only having 3 international caps at the time. He went on to defy the odds and

start all three test matches - picked ahead of Jason Leonard - in a legendary series that the tourists would eventually win 2-1 thanks to Jeremy Guscott’s unforgettable drop goal. Smith last played for Scotland in 2005, but continued to play for club side Northampton until taking up his first coaching role with Edinburgh in 2009. His experience will be invaluable to Bergerac as they look to build on their success last season when they not only gained promotion from the Fédérale 3, but also went on to be crowned champions of France (see July’s launch edition of The Bugle Dordogne). “We need to reinforce a few positions, but it is essential that we keep our balance,” said Stéphane Delage shortly after his team were crowned champions earlier in the summer. “We will play in the Fédérale 2 with humility - it has been a while since we have played at such a high level. The backbone of the side will remain the same and we will look to bring in a few youngsters.” Although not a ‘youngster’, the club have also signed 31-year-old New Zealand fly half Matt Farmer from Dax, who plays in the Pro D2 league - France’s second division of rugby. Farmer has also previously played for Rotherham in England. ■

CAF 24 in tablet giveaway


n an attempt to boost the number of people declaring online, the Dordogne’s caisse d’allocations familiales, the CAF 24, has launched a prize draw giving away tablet computers worth €370 each via its website to those who télédéclare. The news was initially met with disbelief, with a number of the 60,000 households that receive benefits pointing out that they currently have trouble just making ends meet each month, and if the CAF 24 has enough money to be giving away tablet computers, would it not be better served increasing benefits? Responding to these criticisms, assistant director Jérôme Roteta pointed out that they were actually only giving away 2 tablets and that investment in the competition represented a tiny portion of their budget. He also said that if the competition encouraged more people to use the internet, it could actually save money. Those who submit their forms online will have their requests dealt with immediately and the benefit for the CAF is that there will be fewer paper requests to be manually dealt with by staff, saving time and money. The CAF was keen to point out that even those without a computer can declare online: terminals are available at the CAF’s Bergerac and Périgueux offices and staff are on hand to help users. Currently only 10,000 households use the CAF’s online facilities in the Dordogne and it is hoped that the “Télédéclarer, c’est gagner” competition will significantly increase this number. One reason that many still choose to deal direct with the CAF 24 is that it is one of the few branches in the country that is not hidden behind an automated telephone system - it is still, for the time being at least, possible to phone up directly and speak to an actual person! For a chance to win a tablet computer, visit the CAF 24 website before the 30th September: ■




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Asbestos-related deaths look set to continue


ith figures suggesting that 1,400 people in the Aquitaine region have been killed by asbestos since 2000, a former employee of the SNPE (a French state-owned company which produces explosives and propellants) in Bergerac has claimed that “with asbestos, the government has poisoned us”. The claim is being made by Bernard Servolle, who worked at the site for 34 years but was made redundant 2 years ago. In April he decided to go for a CT scan. “I refused [a scan] 10 years ago. This time, myself and my brotherin-law, who also worked at the SNPE, persuaded each other to do it.” The results showed pleural plaques, a common symptom of people exposed to asbestos and, although not directly linked, the worry is that a mesothelioma - a form of cancer affecting the lungs - may develop in the future. “It’s like I have the sword of Damocles hanging over my head,” said Mr Servolle. “There is nothing that

can be done medically apart from monitoring them. It is very worrying.” Once an active and sportloving man, exercise has begun to get the better of him. “I don’t have any endurance any more. I’ve lost my strength. I’ve stopped doing everything, even walking in the mountains.” When Mr Servolle began working at the SNPE in 1977, he says no one spoke about asbestos. It didn’t become an issue until the 1990s when there was a big push nationally to eliminate the dangerous substance. Workers began to worry when the authorities finally admitted they had been exposed to asbestos between 1972 and 1992. “To begin with, we thought it would be a good way to get early retirement!” said Mr Servolle. “But we changed our tune very quickly when the first people fell ill. We began to make the link with the early deaths of former colleagues whereas before we never thought about it. What was the factory doctor doing all this time? I feel let down. The state

has poisoned us and we need to do everything we can to make it acknowledge this.” Former Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry was cleared of manslaughter charges in May for failing to protect French workers from asbestos. She had been placed under formal investigation last November, accused of taking too long to implement a 1983 EU directive designed to strengthen the protection of workers dealing with asbestos. She was at that time a senior official in the ministry of social affairs. “The courts today recognised that no fault or negligence could be attributed to me,” Aubry, who is presently the mayor of the northern city of Lille, said in a statement. “Everybody knows that I have always acted as an official and as a minister to defend and reinforce the rights of workers and protect them from occupational hazards,” she said. A government study in 1996 revealed that up to 100,000 deaths linked to asbestos could be predicted by the year 2025. ■

The Bugle Dordogne - Sep 2013  

Your local newspaper for the Dordogne. News, views and events from across the region

The Bugle Dordogne - Sep 2013  

Your local newspaper for the Dordogne. News, views and events from across the region