France's family business
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Like father, like son. Romain Ntamack is following in the footsteps of his dad, Emile, a 46-time international, by being called up to the France squad for the Six Nations.
Emile, nicknamed ‘the Black Panther’, played for the French national team between 1994-2000, won a Grand Slam and was a World Cup runner-up before also being a member of France’s coaching staff as runners-up in the competition in New Zealand in 2011.
Romain, 19, is yet to make his senior international debut but has both a world junior championship and an U20s Six Nations title to his name.
He’s one of two sons of former France backs in the squad alongside six-time international Damien Penaud whose father Alain, featured on 32 occasions for his country in the 1990s.
Romain told RMC Sport Emile was the first person to contact him after hearing the news on Wednesday.
“He was the first to call me, he was very happy and proud of me. It gives me great pleasure to be able to have the chance of playing at the same level as he did,” he said.
The teenager has been included in Jacques Brunel’s Six Nations squad after playing 26 games for Toulouse since making his debut for the club in 2017. Emile wore the red and black shirt more than 100 times in a period spanning 17 years where he won the European Cup twice.
Romain has been crucial leading the Stade Ernest-Wallon outfit to a 12-match unbeaten run this season.
They look set for a Champions Cup quarter-final spot leading their pool with two rounds of the competitions to play having already beaten holders Leinster.
In 16 games this season he’s started 10 of them at inside centre as well as wearing the flyhalf jersey.
During last summer’s successful world junior championship he switched between both positions seamlessly.
He follows in the all-rounder footsteps of his father who played fullback, wing and centre for club and country.
— FF Rugby (@FFRugby) January 9, 2019
However, Ntamack faces tough competition for a starting berth in the Six Nations as 19-time international Camille Lopez looks to be Brunel’s man at outside-half and experienced individuals in Mathieu Bastareaud, Gael Fickou or Wesley Fofana are set to tussle for the centre berths.
“In matches Romain Ntamack starts as a centre but in open play he changes between positions. So we’ll say he’s a flyhalf-centre,” Brunel said at a press conference to announce his squad.
With a World Cup a matter of months away, Ntamack refused to think about replicating Emile who played in the 1995 and the 1999 edition.
“There are a lot of things which could happen between now and the World Cup. This is just the first step, there’s a long way to go until Japan,” Ntamack.
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