Romain Ntamack, disciple of the Toulouse school

Former rugby player Aristide Barraud rubs the young opener of the French team with the values ​​taught in Japanese martial arts schools, in the column he holds for "Le Monde" throughout the competition.

Time to Reading 4 min.

At the National Rugby Center in Marcoussis, in July, during the preparation of the Blues for the World Cup.
At the National Rugby Center in Marcoussis, in July, during the preparation of the Blues for the World Cup.

"Oval Rising" The fight has a leading role in the history of Japan, Rugby World Cup could not find better country to compete. Because in Kanji writing, rugby is composed of the association of characters "combat" and "collective", thus raised to the level of martial art. However, the common dimension of a match does not prevent the emergence of significant figures.

Read also Rugby World Cup 2019: Group C as "crunchy"

The match of the XV of France against Argentina, bitter and tense from beginning to end, allowed the oval planet to discover a daring prodigy, Romain Ntamack, young opener of twenty years. His control of the pressure and his maturity at this level of competition have impressed, the praise articles have multiplied, often linking talent to paternal descent (his father Emile Ntamack, former winger of the Blues). But that seems to me reductive because the line of his most representative biography in my opinion, corresponds to the list of previous clubs. And there is only one: the Stade Toulousain.

Raised on the banks of the Garonne River, Romain Ntamack has only known one school, that of Stade Toulousain with a world-renowned style.

I'm writing these lines from Kyoto's Gion neighborhood, and this is not trivial. Indeed, the old imperial capital has as many temples as it has grown disciples in its schools of martial arts. Throughout Japan, these places of learning and training have benefited from the peace brought by the Edo period (1603-1868) to birth and define their style, deepen their technique and their identity. The previous period, called the "warlords" (1467-1603), had left the country and Japanese society ravaged.

The cessation of conflicts allowed the proliferation of schools, diverting the thirst and the fighting instinct towards a technical, formal and spiritual research. Hereditary teaching was refined and reached very high levels of subtlety and expertise.

Read also Rugby World Cup 2019: "Guilhem Guirado, captain bushido"

Cyclic alternation

Raised on the banks of the Garonne River, Romain Ntamack has only known one school, that of Stade Toulousain world-renowned style, ancestral prestige and not suffering any comparison. Functioning on the principle of the transmission, forming and leaving to hatch with each generation of players able to integrate and to make the team win. The young Ntamack has climbed the ladder and won two titles of champions of France, one in 2016 with the cadets and one last June in Top 14.

In parallel with his federal career in the French teams, he learned from the elders, as in Kyoto schools, the techniques and deep visions of a system. His absolute commitment as a disciple enabled him to take the steps quickly. Small, Roman returned the ball to the champions, with whom he shares today the shirt of the XV of France.

The formation of a young person, initiated by an elder, is a succession, a cyclical alternation, like that of day and night. And the stars appear numerous. But at dawn and dusk, only the glow of continuity counts. Thus grew Romain Ntamack, martial artist, product of his own will and hard work within the Toulouse school.

We knew he was talented but on Saturday, September 21st against Argentina, his emotional management and calm in the storm marked my spirit. It is said to be impervious to pressure, I think rather that it controls the temperature of its body and the distance of the external elements.

Read also Rugby World Cup 2019: the XV of France avoids the "karoshi"

In the first minutes of the match, his shot attempts at the ends of the field revealed his reptilian coolness. His ability to regain zen after mistakes and in the heat of the action testifies to an important internal evolution. Sufficient to achieve the intuitive revelation sought by Japanese fighters, a mastery gained by rejecting any superfluous thought. His offensive and defensive interventions in key moments and their seemingly easy performances come from a spirit constantly in the present moment. Japanese masters call it "mizu no kokoro", the spirit of water.

Game and freedom

As Roman Ntamack is a placid and cold lake in an autumn morning. The multicolored leaves of the surrounding trees land without riddling the surface. However, peace is never infallible and training lasts the time of a career, invisible to the eyes eager and uninitiated. Against Argentina, the decisive kick missed at the 74e minute is a breath on the lake, heralding new evolutions.

Within the Toulouse school and its selection, time will continue to reinforce its spirit convinced of a legacy and a dazzling destiny. His future manifesto leaves little uncertainty but will take the necessary time, leaving the impatient suffering waiting. And when new doubts arrive, let us remember that the water, even on a flat ground and in a latent calm, always flows in the direction of the slope.

Aristide Barraud

Aristide Barraud, 30, is a former professional rugby player. Ex-international under 20 years, he has notably played in the Top 14 with the French Stadium before exiling himself in the Italian league.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here