Foreigners debate "deeply troubling"

Date published: November 4 2014

Hostility towards the number of foreign-born players in the Les Bleus squad is “deeply troubling”, FFR president Pierre Camou said.

Hostility in France towards the number of foreign-born players playing for the side is “deeply troubling”, said French federation president Pierre Camou.

Bayonne’s 28-year-old South African-born full-back Scott Spedding became the latest foreigner to join up with the squad ahead of their November internationals, replacing the injured Brice Dulin.

Also in the 30-strong squad are already-capped flanker Bernard Le Roux and scrum-half Rory Kockott, both also born in South Africa, as well as New Zealand-born prop Uini Atonio.

Kockott’s inclusion in particular comes at the expense of veteran Morgan Parra and the promising Maxime Machenaud.

“I find it deeply troubling,” Camou said, with France due to play Fiji in Marseille on Saturday before going on to play Australia and Argentina.

“Scott Spedding is French. Does he have the right to play or not?

“Are there some origins that count or not? Does he have the right to have a choice of nationality or not?” Camou said, citing the Nobel Prize given to Polish-born, French-naturalised scientist Marie Curie.

“We have to stop the dispute.”

Camou continued: “We didn’t ask these questions before. In 1995 (at the World Cup in South Africa) the France captain was Moroccan (Abdelatif Benazzi). That didn’t trouble anyone.”

Last week, however, one of Benazzi’s former teammates, Emile Ntamack, declared himself “completely against” the presence of foreigners in the France team.

“I am completely against it!” Ntamack told Midi Olympique rugby newspaper.

“Not against the players, far from it, as long as they deserve their place.

“However, I think the France team should remain the preserve of French players, even if I played with some super guys like (South African) Pieter De Villiers and (New Zealander) Tony Marsh.”