French Barbarians rugby team show their softer side to excited young fans

French Barbarians captain Frédéric Michalak plays touch rugby with children from Lycée Jules Verne French International School. Photo: Sarah Koning

 


The French Barbarians rugby team visited the Lycée Jules Verne French International School in Morningside on 22 June.

Schoolchildren lined the pathway as French Barbarians captain Frédéric Michalak walked through the gates with some of the coaching staff, signing autographs for excited young fans.

French Barbarians captain Frédéric Michalak greets adoring fans from Lycée Jules Verne French International School on Thursday. Photo: Sarah Koning

The French Barbarians began their visit with a quick touch rugby match with children from the school, using mixed teams. Afterwards, they took selfies with adoring fans and responded to a Q&A session with the children.

Primary school headmaster Stéphane Pollack said the visit was organised by the French Embassy. “It is great motivation for our students to meet French Barbarians rugby players. Their captain, Michalak, is a good kicker and an inspiration to many children at our school.”

French Barbarians captain and former Sharks player Frédéric Michalak signs Amran Ndiaye’s shirt during his visit to Lycée Jules Verne French International School. Photo: Sarah Koning

Michalak, who has played over 70 tests for France to date, is the leading Test scorer for the country. He is also well-known in South Africa after playing Super Rugby for the Sharks in 2008.

Speaking to Sandton Chronicle, Michalak said, “It’s great to be back in South Africa and see all the people I met when I was here. It feels like home. It was special to play in Durban for the first Test and meet up with old friends and coaches. We were invited to this school to see the French community here in South Africa. The kids here play rugby with no shoes, which shows they’re South African, not French,” laughed Michalak.

French Barbarians captain Frédéric Michalak and other coaching staff pose with excited children from Lycée Jules Verne French International School. Photo: Sarah Koning

He commented that the tour to South Africa was a wonderful opportunity for the French Barbarians to learn and grow. He advised children to focus on their school work and see rugby as a game for enjoyment.

Jean-Etienne Guitard in Grade 12, who posed a few questions to the French Barbarians said, “It was an honour to meet Frédéric Michalak. He is a great French player and even used to play for the Sharks. When he touches the ball, you can see he has experience.”

Come De Poncins in Grade 4 said, “It’s exciting to meet him. I was surprised by his muscles. He signed my shirt and my book. I want to be a rugby man like Frédéric one day.”

French Barbarians captain Frédéric Michalak plays touch rugby with children from Lycée Jules Verne French International School. Photo: Sarah Koning

Emma Lucas in Grade 11, who plays for the girls’ rugby team at the school, who got a selfie with Michalak said, “It’s such an honour to have them at our school. I just wanted to meet the players because we follow French rugby. It’s fun to know Frédéric is such a down to earth player.”

Children from Lycée Jules Verne French International School Guenola Bouhier, left, and Emma Lucas, right, pose for a selfie with French Barbarians captain Frédéric Michalak. Photo: Sarah Koning

 

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Sarah Koning

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