RUGBY UNION

Frenchman Yannick Nyanga makes teary return to national rugby team

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2012, 3:26am
AFP

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Yannick Nyanga sobbing prior to France's 33-6 demolition of Australia last Saturday reflected how much it meant to the flanker to be playing for France again after a five-year hiatus.

The Toulouse star said that he was so happy to be back in the French fold and added that he was using the fear of being left out again as a positive weapon in raising his performance so the nightmare scenario does not pan out.

"Even once you are in the France team, you say to yourself, 'I don't know how this has happened. Am I going to be able to handle it?' Now I know that I am able to handle it", said Nyanga, who will be looking to get the nod again for Saturday's game in Lille against their bogey side, Argentina.

"But this positive fear is part of what comes with playing at a high level. It is imperative to keep that."

Nyanga, who turns 29 next month, did not disappoint in what was his 26th test for his adoptive country, having been born in Zaire, what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, putting up an effective performance till going off with 14 minutes remaining.

Nyanga, who spent five years on the sidelines because of a knee injury in 2009 and falling out of favour with France's coach from 2008 to 2011, the unpredictable Marc Lievremont, refused to support those who had commented his tears were in contrast to the lack of pride shown by the French footballers when they lined up for the national anthem.

"My tears really created a buzz [on social media as well as the regular media] despite myself," he said.

"It is a little annoying because my feelings are very personal. I am not ashamed but it is bizarre.

"However, this debate about footballers and rugby players should not have taken place.

"It serves no purpose to stir up these debates, it is ridiculous. It is pointless to make such comparisons, to be divisive.

"It was a personal reaction [the tears]."

"And to play with Dimitri Szarzewski and Fred Michalak, with whom I don't play anymore [Michalak is at Toulon after a long spell with Toulouse] and who are guys I like a lot, at the Stade de France, with the Marseillaise [the French national anthem], well then that is a potent mix."

"If you are not in the squad, it is because you don't deserve to be.