Home Play by Mail How did France’s #10 poster artist acquire all of his dazzling skills? Romain Ntamack opens

How did France’s #10 poster artist acquire all of his dazzling skills? Romain Ntamack opens

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Growing up, Romain Ntamack and his younger brother Theo were well known to doctors and nurses at the Toulouse hospital.

On Sundays, usually between 7 and 11 p.m., one of the siblings was often taken for treatment after zealously attacking each other in the garden.

“Oh, Mr. Ntamack, which one is this week? the staff would ask his father, Emile, who scored 26 tries in 46 tests for France and doubled as a family ambulance driver.

France 10 Romain Ntamack (above) opened up in an exclusive interview with Sportsmail

The gifted and elusive playmaker became one of the headliners of the French rugby revolution

The gifted and elusive playmaker became one of the headliners of the French rugby revolution

“We have always had the DNA of rugby in our blood,” says Romain. “If the weather was bad, we played in the house and ended up breaking glasses or vases. If the weather was nice, we played in the garden.

“I remember tackling my brother into a tree to prevent him from scoring a try. He cut his head open and had to go to the hospital for stitches above his eye.

“Sometimes dad’s teammates would come over for dinner and their kids would play with us too. Trevor Brennan’s family was often present. They were keen rugby players who would join them.

“Dad would be the referee. We were competitive even as young boys, but our dad’s big thing was that we always had to respect the referee. It was a wonderful education for us.

Growing up, Ntamack rubbed shoulders with the great and the good of world rugby.

The talented outside is the son of former France international Emile Ntamack (right)

The talented outside is the son of former France international Emile Ntamack (right)

At six months old, he was carried around Twickenham on his father’s hip after the World Cup semi-final. As he got older, he was invited as a ball boy and met his idols after games. He said to his father: “One day, I’m going to be on this bus with the team.

He adds: “There are so many great memories. I was always aware of what my father was doing in rugby. He often coached with France during the Six Nations, so I spent Sunday afternoons watching TV with my grandfather.

“We sat down 20 minutes before kick-off because I loved listening to the national anthems. There was a big family lunch sitting around the table and my grandma was making pancakes during the game. It was magical .

“When I was 12 and dad was coaching France at the 2011 World Cup, I went to New Zealand for 10 days. After the final against the All Blacks, he took me onto the pitch and introduced some players.

Emile represented France at the 1999 World Cup, a tournament in which they were runners-up

Emile represented France at the 1999 World Cup, a tournament in which they were runners-up

“I remember that Jérôme Kaino hit me on the head. It’s funny because we ended up being teammates in Toulouse for three years.

“When I was young I always watched videos of my dad. As you get older you watch other great players for inspiration. Guys like Dan Carter, Owen Farrell, Johnny Sexton, Dan Biggar, Richie Mo’unga. Playing against guys like that was a big part of my development as a player.

Then Ntamack stepped out of his father’s shadow and began to write his own chapter of French rugby.

At 22, he became one of the headliners of the French rugby revolution. While his father was a fast and physical track and field athlete turned rugby player, Romain is an elusive playmaker whose vision helps make France even more beautiful.

Romain also spoke about his strong relationship with half-back partner Antoine Dupont (left)

Romain also spoke about his strong relationship with half-back partner Antoine Dupont (left)

“With France, I don’t know if the word is ‘special’ but it’s certainly different to what we had four or five years ago. They’re a young team who are a bit more carefree. ‘between us have played together for a long time, going through the junior team that won the Under-20 World Cup together.

“We are enjoying the way we are playing at the moment. We want to win and if the fans appreciate it, so much the better but at the same time we are aware that we still have a lot of work to do. We are looking at teams like England, New Zealand, South Africa so that we can learn from them and reach their level.

After beating the All Blacks in style in the fall, with an attack against France’s famous ‘end of the earth try’ in 1994, Ntamack’s side will qualify for the Six Nations this year as favourite.

They have discovered defensive courage under Shaun Edwards, while Ntamack’s half-back partnership with Antoine Dupont seems unstoppable.

‘Me and Antoine have been playing together for a long time with France and Toulouse. Our relationship is getting better every day. What tends to happen is if he has a good game, I have a good game and vice versa. And if we both have a good game, we tend to win.

The 22-year-old also hailed the work of French defense coach and Wigan icon Shaun Edwards.

The 22-year-old also hailed the work of French defense coach and Wigan icon Shaun Edwards.

“As for Shaun, just look at all he has won with Wales and the Lions. He has passed on all the knowledge he has accumulated and that is extremely valuable. He is very British in his attitude .

“He taught us to be stronger, safer, more organized in defence. He does not want us to give anything to the opposition. He put us in the right place.

France is growing. The rugby world is starting to take them seriously and when the World Cup arrives in Paris next year they should be serious contenders. A World Cup trophy at home? It’s something his father could only dream of.

“It’s going to be great to play in front of our friends, fans and families. Lots of areas to improve, lots of games to play. We still have a long way to go before we can claim the World Cup crown. We won’t hide that we want to win, like all teams, but we still have a long way to go.