French flair for S'pore rugby

French flair for S'pore rugby
The Singapore Rugby 7s men’s team training in preparation for the coming 2015 SEA Games. Max Ducourneau (centre) running with the ball.

SINGAPORE - He represented his school in rugby here but, when he was 15, Max Ducourneau moved to Bordeaux.

That was in 2009.

His parents wanted him to do his 'A' levels and continue with his university stint there, but he never stopped playing the game.

Ducourneau (below) returned home last May for National Service and, very quickly, the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) roped him into the 7s squad training for this year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games, and he will offer French flair when the tournament rolls around in June.

Speaking to The New Paper recently, he said: "I had never been part of the national team before, but I actually knew some of the players from when I played for the Lycee Francais (Singapore French School) team in schools competition here.

"Someone scouted me when I played in the 2012 SCC 7s tournament for my team Pyrenees.

"When I came back last year, he introduced me to (SRU technical director) Inoke Afeaki. Soon after that, I started training with the Singapore team.

"I like training with these guys, there's always good energy and there's also a sense of brotherhood. I'm glad I was accepted by the team (quickly)."

The current 18-man Singapore squad will eventually be trimmed to 12, and the 1.80m-tall Ducourneau, who can play centre or as a winger, is considered one of the team's bright prospects after a strong showing at last year's Asia Sevens Series.

He has also raised a few eyebrows with his commitment, cutting short one of his trips back to France last September to play in the Kuala Lumpur leg of the series.

DEDICATION

"To pay for the flight changes himself just so he could join us for a tournament shows Max's dedication," said team manager Clarence Lam.

"Sometimes, he comes to training straight from camp, still in his army uniform, and after hours of (NS) duty. He's never too tired to train.

"Max has also done a great job of integrating with the team."

The SEA Games will be his first foray into international rugby, Ducourneau will be one of Singapore's main men.

While in France, the youngster played three seasons for the junior team of "Top 14" side Bordeaux Begles.

It was a stint which improved his game tremendously.

"Those were my best rugby years so far," said Ducourneau.

"I was injured a lot in my first year, because the guys there were so much bigger, but I got better the next two years.

"Training sessions with the Singapore team are tough too, because everyone wants a place in the final 12.

"If I make (the cut), the SEA Games will be a huge experience for me."


This article was first published on Jan 16, 2015.
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