The Stade Toulouse women’s Elite team put on their boots on the pitch at the Armagnac stadium in Eauze on Thursday, January 4th. The players then ran small workshops for youngsters at the rugby school.
“You see, they use the breaks well, but sometimes they also pass between the legs,” the young player in red-gold socks tells his coach. “Yes, but the ball is in their court and there is always someone supporting,” the latter replies with a laugh. It was all smiles as children from Eauze, Gondrin and Castelnau-d’Auzan-Labarrère rugby schools trained on the same field as French women’s rugby’s top players on Thursday 4 January.
Armagnac stadium in Eauze hosts the team Toulouse stadium for localized training. “We wanted to visit a member’s Armagnac cellar. Our partnership Vivadourexplains Olivier Marin, manager of the women’s team. Since the co-op group also sponsors US Eauze, he suggested we train there.” But it was a first for the local club, which had hosted a Pro D2 match a few years ago.
After the warm-up, the rugby women are divided into three groups and compete in 5-minute “touch” sessions. During this time, children (including students) participate in small exercises at regular intervals, looking at the center of the field. In the stands, some residents are taking advantage of the opportunity to watch the Elite 1 players, four of whom are internationals, play at home this Thursday.
Playing with the women of Stade Toulouse
Pauline Bourdon-Sensus, Gaëlle Hermet, Charlotte Escudero and Mathilde Coutouly… “It’s a chance for children to have this experience,” thinks Bruno Blaya, one of the four co-presidents of US Eauze. “They get to meet and interact with high-level players. It also allows us to explore that environment and see a little bit of how the team works.”
After finishing their training, the players change their caps and organize different workshops for young people: number games, touching… The girls in the stadium give advice and play with the forty children gathered that morning. To the delight of young shoots. “We made tackles, we defended and we played,” say Elise and Paloma, both students at clubs in the surrounding villages. “It’s really nice because there are internationals among them. What’s really nice is to see the girls because we still don’t see them playing rugby much here.”
But the feminization of the sport is also felt in Eauze: “There are more and more girls playing rugby, but we do not yet have student or senior teams in the USA,” explains Bruno Blaya. “It’s a good thing that Stade Toulouse is so good. Their team is coming here: bringing the popularity of women’s rugby to the industry.”
After the half-hour workshop, everyone gathers in a circle to end the morning. Players are actually expected to visit the Jean Cavé vault in Lannepax. But leaving without a group photo and a war cry before leaving is out of the question. The first was Toulouse. “Yellow, red, armagnac”, coined later by a small group in honor of the colors of Eauze, is a cry uttered by young and old to give the young Gersois an unforgettable memory of this sunny morning.