PARIS (AFP) – Wasps forward Thibaud Flament’s unorthodox path to professional rugby reflects his experience during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Frenchman Flament, 22, has returned to his family home in Brussels where he has full access to a gym and training pitch thanks to the club his dad founded, Stade Ucclois, with lockdown rules lighter in Belgium compared to Britain.
The loose forward, who can operate at lock and back-row, has featured 16 times for the English Premiership club in his first full-time campaign after coming through the ranks at Loughborough University and spending a year in Argentina.
“I’m very lucky. It’s obvious, I see other players, they have indoor bikes, rowing machines and some weights. I have that, but having a weights room and a field available is great. I’m lucky to have access to that,” he told AFP.
“It’s better for me here to work and train because everything at Wasps is closed, we don’t have access to the gym,” he added.
During his studies at Loughborough Flament went from the fifth team to starting for the firsts in English rugby’s third tier National One league. He spent a year of work experience at the French Embassy in Buenos Aires and turned out for top-flight side Club Newman.
“I played in the final of Argentina’s national championship. It’s an unforgettable memory, unfortunately we lost but it was great,” he said.
After finishing his studies the Ricoh Arena side offered him a two-year academy contract, but he has been given his first-team chance with the likes of England’s Joe Launchbury and Wales international Will Rowlands away on Test duty.
“Launchbury was at the World Cup which was a bonus for me. There were also injuries at second-row, I was playing straight away,” he said.
“During the Six Nations Launchbury was with England and Rowland was with Wales. There were two second-rows fewer and a back-rower injured. I had circumstances which were great. I made the most of these circumstances,” he added.
Flament has 12 months left of his deal at the club based in England’s west Midlands but has ambitions to play for his country by 2023, in the Top 14 and even further afield to continue his global rugby travels.
“I’m eyeing playing for France without any doubt. It would be great to play in a World Cup, and even more so in France,” he said.
“It’s my country’s league. I grew up with it, I dream about playing in the league. I’m really happy in the Premiership and I don’t wake up every morning saying ‘I absolutely have to go to the Top 14’.
“I also want to play in Super Rugby. We’ll see what comes up,” he added.
The Premiership has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Flament is eager to return to the field but said a training period needs to be put in place before matches restart.
“Everything that is muscle memory and the movements is impossible to get back a week before playing after five weeks off,” he said.
“Seeing that there will have been a big break, you have to prepare your body to take the hits in training.
“I can’t wait to get back to it but unfortunately things are out of my control. I’m starting to miss it.”