Six world champions under 20 appear this Saturday in the selection of "Barbarians", the reserve team of the XV of France, facing Tonga.
By Adrien Pécout (La Teste-de-Buch, Gironde, Special Envoy)
Blue jerseys. A rugby ball. And to conclude, a nice cup brandished to the public. It could be a joke of bad taste, with regard to the XV of France (opposite Saturday, November 10 to South Africa) and its defeats at the chain. This scene has yet existed, but for young French U-20 world champions: final won in Beziers in June, against England.
Five of them are now preparing to face Tonga as holders, for their first match with the selection of "Barbarians", the reserve team of the XV of France. Aligned ex officio, at the stadium Chaban-Delmas de Bordeaux, this Saturday (from 16 hours): Jordan Joseph Racingman, Toulon Louis Carbonel, Toulousain Roman Ntamack, Lyonnais Pierre-Louis Barassi and Agen Clément Laporte . A sixth, Jean-Baptiste Gros (Toulon too), will start replacing.
"I do not take my head too muchsays Laporte, after the rainy training on Tuesday morning, on the facilities of the Rugby club basin Arcachon. We will all try to play our card Saturday, without turning the brain. "In the youth categories, we send a lot more games, there is a lot more movement, more madness", says the winger (or back) agenais. Way of saying that it will take time to adapt to international adult rugby, "To the game a little more closed".
The 2019 World Cup? "A little early for us"
In less than a year, the national team of Tonga will then face the XV of France during the 2019 World Cup, the next big deadline. "I think it will be a bit early for us"objected Romain Ntamack, on behalf of his little comrades. The son of Emile, former international, is projected rather on the 2023 edition in France. He will be 24 years old. "It's still more in our strings"concedes the young, sometimes opener, sometimes three quarters.
In the meantime, Ntamack Junior is tackling this match against Tonga "With almost zero pressure". If not that of continuing what he began with the Toulouse Stadium, where he has just signed a first three-year professional contract. Since the start of the season, the young man has already played six games out of nine in the Top 14, the championship of France. Already the equivalent of his total over the entire previous season.
Without ever having played an entire match, Jordan Joseph is five appearances with Racing in the league, and one in the European Cup. "In the short term, I have the goal of playing in Top 14. Otherwise, agrees the third-line, hard to hope to make the 2019 or 2023 World Cup … " A logical answer for the young man, who has already taken media training courses at his club's premises. What did he retain? Topic " staff " ! "
Play, play, still play. More or less obvious, according to the competition of recruits from everywhere. For Ugo Mola, occasional Barbarians coach and usual Stade Toulousain, "One of the keys to French rugby is to expose our young players and to be able to give them play time." Otherwise, the promises of these 2018 Blues will remain at the stage of disappointed hopes. As for the world champion generation under 21, in 2006, despite the Guirado, Médard, Mermoz …
There is something else, Ugo Mola insists. No matter the talent, no matter the quality of the training, as long as the French professional rugby will exhaust the players ("Eleven months out of twelve")… Pessimistic warning: "We can shoot it as we want, our championship is for the moment antithetical to international rugby and what we want to do. "
Far from these considerations, Clément Laporte appreciated the beginning "Very relaxed" of the gathering. The Barbarians spirit, must we believe. The same one who can get you started on Tuesday morning, forty minutes late on the schedule. "One night, we also had a few beers at the hotel. A really nice evening. In club, it happens to us, but rather after the match. Less at the beginning of the week … » The young people stay at the Haïtza hotel, in Pyla-sur-Mer. It is William Téchoueyres who must be happy: the establishment is held by the former rugby player, always close to Bernard Laporte, president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR).
Saturday, November 17, the six Blueberries "Babas" should then find all their other former teammates in June. At the initiative of the FFR, they will attend the test-match of France against Argentina, Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq (North). The occasion may be to applaud the great debut of Demba Bamba, the pillar of Brive, reservist Saturday against South Africa, being the only one of those Blueberries to train already with the XV of France.