Annick Hayraud, pillar of French women’s rugby

Eight days after the Grand Slam achieved by the French men’s rugby team, the women’s XV of France in turn launches its Six Nations Tournament, Sunday March 27, with the reception of Italy, in Grenoble (4 p.m.) . For the first time, the women’s tournament leaves the shadow of its male counterpart to welcome the light of spring.

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As a result of this change in the schedule, Les Bleues have had all the facilities at the Marcoussis National Rugby Center (CNR) for themselves since their meeting on Thursday March 17. As a symbol of the dimension taken in recent years by tricolor women’s rugby. A new status that he owes, in large part, to a woman: Annick Hayraud.

After a first mandate, from 2011 to 2014, the native of Riom (Puy-de-Dôme) regained her position as general manager of the XV of France women in 2017. Some players, like Annaëlle Deshayes, had gone ” look on the Internet “ information on what was then only for them“a new name” : “And there we say to ourselves:” Ah yes, she did all that! »still laughs the pillar (19 selections) of the XV of France. We have stars in our eyes, from all that she has accomplished for women’s rugby. »

“When she has something to say, she says it”

It was in her native Auvergne that Annick Hayraud started playing rugby, which she then shared with the practice of football. Then at 16, she definitely chose the oval ball. Despite the obstacles. “It wasn’t easy, you had to have a little bit of character, does she remember. A girl who plays rugby, even today it can be complicated, so imagine 30 years ago! »

By his own admission “a bit stubborn”no one will make him change his mind. ” I have no regrets. I flourished in this sport which changed the course of my life”, she smiles, looking back on more than 35 years of career. First sixteen years as a player in Romagnat (Puy-de-Dôme), where she won two titles of champion of France (1994 and 1995) before taking control at the end of her career. At the same time, Annick Hayraud totaled 65 selections for the French team, with the first Grand Slam des Bleues, in 2002.

The technician’s return to the head of the Bleues was however done with a bang. In January 2017, a month after the election of Bernard Laporte as president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), the new general manager plays the head cutter when she announces to Jean-Michel Gonzalez and his deputy Philippe Laurent that they are ousted. “It was a bit complicated because we were six months away from the World Cup, recalls Annaëlle Deshayes. But she was able to put the group back in confidence and in the right direction. »

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“Annick is close to the girls, decrypts Thomas Darracq, sports manager of the women’s project. His strength is his relationship. » “She can be quiet but when she has something to say, she says it, continues Annaëlle Deshayes. She makes a point of honor on communication so that the group lives well. »

Obtaining the first federal contracts

Beyond her method on the meadow, Annick Hayraud also fights in the offices to develop women’s rugby. “She paved the way, she is one of the pioneers,” says Laura Di Muzio, former international and now consultant for France Télévisions. A term that the coach refutes, even if she is the only woman at the head of a nation appearing in the top 10 in the world ranking: “As a player and then a manager, I try to defend women’s rugby. But people have fought much harder than me before. »

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“Annick has worked hard, assures Thomas Darracq. She was instrumental in the emergence of French women’s rugby. » “She is still campaigning for us to exist. Since 2017, our living environments, our endowments have only increased, we know that it is thanks to her, because she has fought.continues Annaëlle Deshayes.

The major breakthrough came in 2018. For the first time, the FFR set up federal contracts: 24, then 26 and now 32 players benefit from such a contract with 75% remuneration and an adapted schedule. with studies or their job. “Before, the players took time off to come to the France team, explains Annaëlle Deshayes, also a Mathematics License student. It helps a lot when the only thing to do is rugby. »

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Since then, the level has progressed thanks to the means allocated by the federation. Like that of Fabien Galthié, Annick Hayraud’s staff has grown with around fifteen regular members and external contributors. “Before, we only had a manager, a trainer and a doctor or a physiotherapist”remembers the coach.

world cup goal

By its results, the XV of France has reached a milestone. On the fall 2021 tour, he twice outclassed New Zealand (38-13, 29-7). Les Bleues are on a series of four consecutive victories against the Blacks Ferns, victorious in five of the last six World Cups. The next one will take place in New Zealand (from October 8 to November 12).

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“It’s great to play four World Cups but I would have preferred to play only one and be world champion”said the general manager on the FFR website, in February 2021. A speech that she continues to hammer at her players who have understood the main objective of the year.

“That’s what we’re aiming for, we want to be world champions”claims Annaëlle Deshayes. “Given what has been put in place with the contracts, the reinforcement of the staff, it is consistent”slides Laura Di Muzio.

The French women’s team has never seemed so well equipped to win the title of world champion which is missing from its list. “We are not going to overuse the tournament, it will serve as preparation”, warns, cautious, Annick Hayraud. The last match of the Six Nations against England, on April 30, could be the final of the Tournament. Before meeting up to play for the World Cup title seven months later?

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