French national team: who are the most high-profile players ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup?

The great rugby festival is approaching, and the whole of France is preparing to live to the rhythm of the exploits of the French national team. With the 2023 Rugby World Cup just a few weeks away, takes a look at the most high-profile players in the French team, as well as their region of origin or adoption. It's showtime!

Uini Atonio - Pillar - Atlantic Coast

Originally from New Zealand, Uini Atonio intends to help his adopted country win the 2023 Rugby World Cup before calling time on his career... At 33, the Stade Rochelais prop, winner of the European Cup in 2022 and 2023, has no plans to retire far from his adopted hometown. His conversion project is already well under way: creation of a brand of beer in his name, Uini's Beer, "a beer with a beard", according to its slogan, and the purchase of a restaurant (Le Belvédère), located on the bridge of the Ile de Ré, one of the islands on the Atlantic coast. One thing's for sure, the third halves in La Rochelle are going to be wild!

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Julien Marchand - hooker - Pyrenees

Born in a small village in the Pyrenees, not far from Bagnères-de-Bigorre, well known to cycling and Tour de France fans, Julien Marchand could have been destined for cycling or football, which he played until the age of 11, but it was rugby that he chose, like his father... At 28, the Stade Toulousain hooker has already won a European Cup and 3 French Championships in 2019, 2021 and 2023... Let's hope his trophy haul isn't over this year!

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Romain Taofifénua - Second row - Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Romain Taofifénua is preparing to take to the turf of France at the 2023 Rugby World Cup with a hunger for the LOU, the acronym of the Lyon rugby club where he has played for the past two seasons. Born in Mont-de-Marsan, in the Landes region of France, the current second row of the French national team went through Perpignan and Toulon before earning a place in the starting line-up for the French national team, where he has already scored two tries in 43 appearances. A rise that 'Grand Tao', as he is known to his team-mates, owes in part to his father, Willy Taofifénua, a former Grenoble club legend in the 1990s.

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Grégory Alldritt - Third row - Pyrenees

Grégory Alldritt, who masterminded France's stunning victory over England in the last 6 Nations Tournament, is keen to repeat the feat at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Born to a Scottish father, the most British of Frenchmen has established himself as a key figure in the French team, with 47 caps and 4 tries to his name at just 26 years of age. When he's not breaking down opposing defences (always respecting the game), the French third row centre and two-time European champion likes to recharge his batteries with his family in the Pyrenees, his native region: the Louron Valley and the Néouvielle massif are among his favourite hiking spots. Back in La Rochelle, he also enjoys strolling along the port of Plomb L'Houmeau or the Concurrence beach to admire the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

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Antoine Dupont - scrum-half - Occitanie

Captain of the French national team, best rugby player in the world in 2021, three-time French champion and European champion with Stade Toulousain, winner of the Grand Slam in the Six Nations Tournament and appointed Minister of the Interior by his team-mates... At the age of 26, Antoine Dupont's CV is already well-filled, but the French rugby prodigy is keeping his feet firmly on the ground, preferably in Toulouse where he has joined forces with his colleague Eric Baille to run the guinguette 'La Pétanque des Copains', the place to be for a successful third half in the Ville Rose. He also likes to recharge his batteries in his native village in the Pyrenees, at the family estate transformed into a gîte by the two Dupont brothers. The menu includes duck magret en cocotte, a house speciality since 1973.

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Charles Ollivon - third row wing - Basque Country

In his 30th birthday year, Charles Ollivon is dreaming of becoming world rugby champion... While he waits to lift the Webb Ellis trophy (in tribute to the inventor of the sport), his team-mates in the French national team and at Toulon have long been calling him "le Grand Charles". It has to be said that the former third row from Bayonne in the Basque country is no slouch with the ball, having scored 12 tries for the French national team. His many games of Basque pelota in the schoolyard no doubt have something to do with it...

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Gaël Fickou – centre - Provence

Born in Provence, in La Seyne-sur-Mer, near Toulon, where he trained before joining Toulouse and then Paris in 2018, Gaël Fickou is a fine example of French success. Ten years after his first match with the French national team, the experienced vice-captain of Les Bleus now has 79 caps to his name at just 29 years of age. He recounts his atypical career in his autobiography, "Derrière l'armure" (Behind the Armour), a true declaration of love for France published just a few weeks before the start of the 2023 World Cup.

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Damian Penaud - winger - Auvergne

After seven seasons with Clermont-Ferrand, Damian Penaud, the winger of the French rugby union team, is taking off... by leaving the Auvergne to join Bordeaux. In the meantime, he is hoping to take the gold medal awarded to the winning players at the 2023 Rugby World Cup back home with him, to go down in the history of French rugby! With Les Bleus since 2017, the player from Brive-la-Gaillarde in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region has already scored 130 points and flattened the ball in the opposition's in-goal 26 times in 55 starts.

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Thomas Ramos - fullback - Occitanie

With 30 penalties, 28 conversions and 1 drop in just 33 appearances for France, Thomas Ramos' kicking ability is feared by Les Bleus' opponents. Let's hope the Stade Toulousain full-back continues his success at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Thomas Ramos was born in Mazamet, a charming village in the Tarn region of Occitanie, with a suspended footbridge across the Arnette Gorge. He soon moved to Toulouse, a rugby town where he honed his skills and fell under its spell. His favourite activities include strolling through the narrow streets of the city centre, famous for their brick facades, or enjoying the terraces along the Garonne.

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