'Even today when I go out to Saint-Denis, my parents ask me to be careful as if I was 10'
French rugby was rocked on Monday by loosehead Jefferson Poirot’s decision to quit Test rugby at just the age of 27. However, another France Test level prop, tighthead Demba Bamba, has revealed how he can’t get enough of rugby after accidentally falling into the sport at the age of 14.
Now 22, the Parisian has eleven caps to his name since a 2018 debut and seems set for a lengthy career at the top after earning his stripes with Brive before a switch to big-spending Lyon. His parents have played an important part in this success, but he admits he only took up rugby to shut up some friends who had been pestering him to get involved.
Speaking to Midi Olympique, France prop Bamba explained: “I discovered rugby in school… it wasn’t exciting. However, at 14, some friends who were playing in a club were forcing me to register. I did a session to please them and this session has been going on for eight years.
“I had nothing else in my life. It was sport or emptiness. I had no other option. Nothing interested me. My only dream was to become a sportsman. In rugby, football or judo, I didn’t care.
“When some of my friends from the neighbourhood started going out, making easy money by doing bulls***, by selling what they had for sale, I thought and lived only for sport. I wasn’t attracted to bulls***. I had parents who were too attentive to deviate and even today when I go out to Saint-Denis, they ask me to be careful as if I was ten. It keeps my feet on the ground.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 8, 2020
Bamba’s recognition that his surroundings in Saint-Denis might be unhelpful went a long way towards convincing him that he had to get away from Paris is he was to become a professional rugby player. “I convinced myself that I had to find a club outside Ile de France. Among friends, family, sport, I would not have given myself the means… I then created my CV and contacted several clubs.
“I was particularly close to Bourgoin. I absolutely wanted to go there, they trusted me and I knew I was going to flourish. However my parents vetoed: they refused to let me go to a city where I didn’t know anyone, so I contacted Brive, where my older brother lived.”
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