ON THE MOVE. Part 3 – Nationale 1
This will be a little more depth analysis of players and how they came to be in France, and living the dream.
The Nat 1 is a stepping stone to and from elite rugby, professional and paying a good salary. The names may or may not be familiar. Fourteen clubs, some with history others looking to go the next step up.Embed from Getty Images
Albi: as a club they have seen the highs and lows but big money does not come easy to a small town, thus where they are now. The Fijians there: in Leka Tagotago who from arriving at Agen did not quite make the grade at Pro D2/Top 14, but has chosen to stay the course. A talented winger he arrives from Pamiers. At 30 he is more settled in his mind. He replaces Josh Drauniniu, an England 7s rep who has played at the top level there.
Aubenas, a club in the middle of France who have always been on the fringes of that step up. They attract aspiring players , youth being the emphasis with a few old hands. Thus Josaia Cama and Jone Sevou, a new 2nd row combination who arrived as academy players at Biarritz and Pau, before moving on. A certain Jim Naikadawa will help them on their way.Embed from Getty Images
Bourgoin. Not so long ago were in the Top 14 but the money ran out. Nemani Nadolo was there briefly, Randall Otto Blake Kamea as well. They have also taken on a young lock in Ratu Rotuisolia from Sydney University, while Mosese Mawalu moves to Chambéry and Jone Tuva to Beauvais (Fed1). The latter was part of the Lyon academy and has Top 14 experience. At 25 he still has the chance to step back up.
Chambéry and Mosese Mawalu will join Ben Neiceru who has been at the club for 5 years.
Dax, another club that has slipped down the ladder welcome Ilikena Bolakoro who will be in his 15th year in France, having arrived at Biarritz in 2006; an ambassador to all players here.Embed from Getty Images
Dijon. a club with no aspirations, Sakiusa Bureitakiyaca moved to Nice in April, having played Pro D2 for Dax and Soyaux. A journeyman.
Nice will also see another player who has seen the ups and downs in life in France, Laijiaisa Bolenaivalu from Pro D2 Vannes. (A merci to Julian Vulakoro for seeing him through the hard times).
Tarbes and Blagnac no Fijians.
Massy and the said Tawalo while ex Fiji rep Adriu Delai leaves (Joseph Ponesi Penitito)
Soyaux and relegation from Pro D2 sees a big clear out. Metuisela Talebula,who knows where, an enigma.
And finally Cognac: Ramoka already mentioned. Jone Daunivucu at 44 still has the legs to go to Fed 3 Rochefort and (the above photo) of Sionasa Vunisa to Grauhlet (Fed2), 12 years on from arriving in Narbonne.
A vinaka to all.
If you missed part two – Click here to get updated on the Pro-D2 player movements