Six Nations Tournament: on the wing, the lightning ascent of Gabin Villière

He steals. Red helmet on the head, oval leather well stuck under the arm, the curling eye and the mouthguard smile, suspended before landing in the opposing in-goal: an image of Gabin Villière which often summarizes his performances rugby. The winger of the XV of France feasts on these dives, to mark his tries but also the spirits. Against Italy at the opening of the Six Nations Tournament on February 6, he stacked three with great confidence.

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This Saturday against Ireland, still at the Stade de France, the challenge looks more serious. But, very fit, the Normand will not miss the opportunity to establish his reputation as a serial marker. Magnetized by this piece of grass on the other side of the line, his own horizon, always.

Forged by refusals

It is an understatement to say that he likes rugby, the little guy from Vire. Calvados is not really a land of ovals, but it is nevertheless the discipline that it chooses. From the age of 6 years on the meadow, it is there that he prefers after many trials in other sports, especially combat. It is not a coincidence. Gabin kid already likes the contact and spend his energy to seize the ball in the regroupings.

Serious things started in 2010 at the Entente Saint-Lô-Vire. He then plays scrum half, which sticks more to his size than to his character. He is more a free spirit than a staff sergeant in directing the maneuver. But he applies himself, and intends to make this valiant sport his profession. He would see himself well in sport-studies, except that we find him a bit weak. Whatever. He persists. He is also trying his luck in training centers. In Clermont, Toulon, Oyonnax, among others. But the refusals accumulate. Always for the same reason. Too skinny.

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It’s hard, but he hangs on. From 2013, here he is in Rouen, a club in Fédérale 1, the third division. As he masters the art of the pass quite badly, his coaches make him slip to the wing. And it suits him very well. He works hard, suddenly pushes towards his 18th birthday, catches the eye of England coach Richard Hill, who sees him “very strict with himself” and ” never satisfied “.

Paid requirement. Gabin Villière gets comfortable on his wing and takes off. He scores more and more, but never hesitates to defend, to try to scrape balls. And it is in blue that we will soon summon him, on the side of rugby sevens. Good pick. He joined the France team in 2017, where he further improved his passes and his reading of the game. His talent exploded in April 2019, on a stage of the Sevens circuit in Hong Kong, where he was voted best player of the tournament.

An exemplary state of mind

On the way back, the phone rings. Clubs finally claim it. A bit of revenge. He allowed Rouen to move up to Pro D2 then was recruited by Toulon in the summer of 2019. A recurring shin injury spoiled his first season in the Top 14, but he was all fired up for the second, to the point of finding himself called up. by the Blues of the XV of France in the fall of 2020. From the Federal 1 to the national team in eighteen months, the trajectory is remarkable.

He justifies the choice of coach Fabien Galthié from his first tenure on the 2021 Tournament against Italy by opening his international test counter. And his 2022 Tournament confirms the momentum (he is six in nine selections). The manager of the Blues, Raphaël Ibanez, boasts “this warrior state of mind which is an example for his teammates”. He only sees the consequence of his years of frustration. “I’m never happy because I know the journey I had to get to where I amhe lets go in everyday life The Team after his sparks against Italy. I know how hard it is and I don’t want to rest on my achievements. After each match, I question myself. »

He knows that he still has to find the balance between his desire to multiply, which pushes him to “dezone” to participate in the fight in the regroupings, and the obligation not to discover his wing too much. He sometimes sins by excess of envy. But at 26, he has everything to follow in the footsteps of Vincent Clerc or Christophe Dominici. References that he himself dares not summon. Definitely modest.


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