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Romain Ntamack walk-off is the talk of French rugby

By Ian Cameron
Romain Ntamack Credit: Premier Sports

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Romain Ntamack wasn’t in the mood for being magnaimous after Toulouse were dumped out of the Top 14 title race by underdogs Castres at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice.

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The 24 – 18 semi-final loss wasn’t for want of trying on Ntamack’s side. The mercurial France 10 scored a sensational try on 47 minutes, but it was ultimately to no avail.

However, it was his reaction after the game that caught the imagination of the French media.

The 23-year-old flyhalf walked off the pitch after the final whistle by himself, not waiting around to shake hands and congratulate his opponents on their win or to acknowledge the travelling Toulouse fans.

Changing room footage caught the moment Ntamack skulked off, a move which has been receively badly in France by many. He appeared to start remonstrating when seated. He was clearly not a happy bunny.

Social media wasn’t kind to Ntamack where he was widely berated for being childish and unsportsmanslike.

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One Midi Olympique journalist, Nicolas Zanardi, defended the son of French legend Emile Ntamack, writing: “I do not understand the relentlessness and hatred concerning Romain Ntamack who made the mistake of going back to the locker room to hide to mourn his disappointment after a semi-final. I don’t understand what anyone can blame this boy for.

“He played 3 minutes in the 2019 final and he didn’t play last year’s final, he is sad and moved, he wants to hide his disappointment out of modesty and we fall on him because he did not go to greet supporters or shake hands with opponents. What would it have been like if he had gone to take selfies with the supporters?

“I don’t understand this meanness. You must never have set foot on the ground not to understand what it can feel. People only see what’s on TV. Ntamack came out, he shook hands with everyone, he took pictures with everyone. I don’t understand how we can be so mean because we hurt the players, they are sensitive to this kind of thing. It’s pathetic! I have no other words. People should think before they write because they hurt and it sucks.”

It’s been a difficult few weeks for Toulouse, who were hammered in the Heineken Champions Cup by Leinster before turning their attention back to their domestic competition. Their renewed focus didn’t  pay off and they are left facing a long summer of wondering where it all went wrong.

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