Rugby World - - FRONT ROW -

ou grew up in Saint-Denis, a Paris sub­urb known more for foot­ball than rugby… I dis­cov­ered rugby at school when I was 14 and played in a small re­gional tour­na­ment. Some­one from the Saint-Denis club saw me and in­vited me over.

Have you al­ways played prop? No, I was No 8 in my first year. At 15 I switched to prop, but I still like run­ning with the ball. You were a na­tional judo cham­pion at 14. Has that sport helped your rugby? Yes. Both re­quire great up­per-body strength and good tech­nique to bring down your op­po­nent. I also played a lot of hand­ball, which has helped my rugby. How hard was it to move from Paris to a coun­try town like Brive? I was only

16, so it took time. Ev­ery­thing’s dif­fer­ent but I adapted and I love it here now. You’ve signed for Lyon and will join them next sea­son. Why Lyon? It’s a very pro­fes­sional club. Their fa­cil­i­ties are ex­cel­lent and I think it’s a club that is ex­cel­lent at de­vel­op­ing young play­ers. How do you re­lax? I love lis­ten­ing to mu­sic and go­ing on my PlayS­ta­tion, and I play a lot of other sport, par­tic­u­larly foot­ball. I sup­port Mar­seille.

Your per­for­mances in France’s U20 World Cup win made head­lines… It’s not some­thing I’ve been used to, so it was a sur­prise, but a nice one. It’s made me more mo­ti­vated be­cause it’s nice to see those sort of head­lines.

What’s your main am­bi­tion for this sea­son? To have a big sea­son for Brive in the ProD2. I’m now too old for France U20, so it’s go­ing to re­quire a lot of work to make the next step into the se­nior squad. But I’m pa­tient and it’s a ques­tion of work­ing lit­tle by lit­tle to­wards that goal.

And the 2023 World Cup in France? Yes, that’s a dream. Not just be­cause it’s in France but the fi­nal will be at the Stade de France. I grew up about five min­utes from the sta­dium so it’s re­ally home for me.

YAge 20 (17 March 1998) Born Paris Club Br i ve Countr y Fr ance Po­si­tion T ight­head prop

RW VER­DicTBamba stands 6ft 1in, weighs 18st 7lb and runs like a back-row. A reg­u­lar in Brive’s pack, the 20-year-old is now learn­ing his scrum­mag­ing craft in the ProD2. Once he’s honed his tech­nique, he’s go­ing to be one the world’s most feared prop for­wards.

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