from university rugby to the XV of France, the meteoric rise of Emilie Boulard

Many dream of the France team, without achieving it, others reach it without having fantasized about it. At 22, Emilie Boulard, rear of the XV of France, is part of the second category. The young player, who already has five tries in ten selections, started rugby only five years ago, choosing an option for her Staps license (sciences and techniques of physical and sports activities). Since ? A meteoric rise and participation in many international tournaments in rugby sevens, until the Six Nations Tournament, where the XV of France faces, Saturday, April 30, England in the “final”.

Read also: Six Nations Tournament: the women’s XV of France dominates Wales, before the “final” against England

“What caught my eye was a large size [1,78 m]an agility in recovering difficult balls, an ability to read spaces, and above all Emilie’s speed », says Thomas Darracq, present at the French university championship in Gironde, in 2018 and then responsible for the France women’s pole. The recruiter contacts the young woman to have her join the structure: “We had to convince people, because few people knew her”he adds.

Emilie Boulard was only 18 years old and had just started rugby at the University of Orsay and at her club Chilly-Mazarin (Essonne), where she was already playing in the second national division. “I had been climbing for several years, but at university I had to choose an option, and as there was a women’s team, I signed up for rugby. I could have chosen another sport and missed out on a great career.”she tells the World.

Doubts, then hatching

His debut at the top level was not idyllic, however. “The first year at the France pole was a bit difficult, she asked herself a lot of questions to find out if she was in her place”, recalls Thomas Darracq. She is also taking part in a month-long tour of Australia and New Zealand with the seven-member French “development” team (a less demanding circuit than the world circuit). “This rally was complicated, I didn’t have enough practice to feel comfortable. But in the end, it allowed me to progress, especially on the physical, technical and rugby levels., she relativizes. His apprenticeship continued with the France under-20 team, and the rugby sevens team, where his performances were noticed.

In January 2021, the young player received a call from Annick Hayraud, the manager of the XV of France: “I didn’t expect to be called up one day at all, it wasn’t even an ambition, I was focusing on rugby sevens. So I was surprised and very happy to be able to participate in this gathering with players I knew. by name, without having rubbed shoulders with them. »

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