Position: scrum half. Club: Toulouse Stadium. Feats of arms: best player of the Six Nations Tournament and best French international player in 2022. If these individual titles were not granted to women, everything could suggest Antoine Dupont. But the prodigy of French rugby has an equivalent within the XV of France women, Laure Sansus. At 28, the number 9 of Les Bleues, at the top of her game, decided to retire after the World Cup in New Zealand (holding country), where Les Bleues face England, Saturday October 15 at 9 a.m. (TF1) in a group match.
“Make the most of it. » While the Blues succeeded, on October 8, in their entry into the matter against South Africa (40-5), Laure Sansus only has these words in her mouth when talking about her last weeks as a player of the XV of France. The scrum half is playing both her first and her last World Cup. But to successfully take advantage of these moments and be part of the trip to New Zealand, the road was long for the one who was already planning to retire at the end of 2021. “My decision was made, but the World Cup was postponed for a year [en raison de la pandémie de Covid-19]so we had to restart the machine and dip into resources to set off again for another year”she says.
Not an easy task for the one who has been playing rugby for twenty-three years and is impatient to turn the page. “I think I have covered the rugby question on the field, she assures. Missing moments with family or friends, baptisms, birthdays, having to plan my life around rugby… these are things that weighed on me more and more. » And on the family side precisely, Laure Sansus multiplies the projects. She will marry in the summer of 2023 with her partner and teammate from Stade Toulouse and the France team Pauline Bourdon, and plans to become a mother. “The desire to have a child is difficult to reconcile with a sports career and that’s one of the things that makes me say that I’m making the right decision, even if that’s not why I’m stopping”she says.
“It’s beyond sporting”
Leaving for an additional season was ultimately successful for Laure Sansus, crowned French champion with her club, then individually rewarded with the titles of best player in the Six Nations Tournament and best French international player in 2022. question his decision to hang up his crampons, announced in May. “People find it difficult to understand this choice, because at the sporting level, I am coming out of a full season. But it is beyond the sporty. I want to grow elsewhere. I also had the impression of coming full circle by playing one of my last matches with Les Bleues in France, in Toulouse, at home, during the last Six Nations Tournament, in a stadium that I have been going to for years. . I experienced it as a gift. I tell myself that I end on a good note, and it’s even more pleasant. »
After her last matches in France, Laure Sansus intends to create beautiful memories in New Zealand: “Many of us stop after this competition, so each stadium visit or jersey delivery, we try to soak it up as much as possible to make as many memories as possible”. Moments shared with her teammate and very close friend, Céline Ferer, who will also hang up her crampons. “We take little photos to immortalize these moments, like the last time we received the clothing allocation. These are small moments outside rugby but which are just as important and warm the heart.says the second line.
One last mission
Upon her return to France, from December, Laure Sansus will return to the Stade Toulousain store, where she has worked since 2018, after having already put her career on hiatus for a year in 2017. “At the time, there was no contract in women’s rugby and, financially, the only choice I had was to work”, she explains. And if she wants to cut off completely with the practice of rugby, she does not rule out becoming a coach later.
But before turning the page, there remains one last mission for Laure Sansus: that of leading Les Bleues as far as possible in the competition in New Zealand. The coach of the XV of France, Thomas Darracq, is counting on his scrum half: “We respect his choice. Laure is a girl of character, who really has her career in her hands. She is an important player in the group, but it is part of the cycle of the France team and we hope that she will be able to bring us all her energy and her rugby for this World Cup. » By scoring two tries in the opening match against South Africa (40-5) on October 8, the Toulousaine has already stood out, and if most of her career is now behind her, Laure Sansus hopes that his most beautiful memory will be written at the end of his last competition.