Rugby has given me many things. Representing Australia at a World Cup was incredible, but I treasure equally the lifelong friends I’ve made along the way. Now it’s giving me the chance to live and work (if you can call it that) in a foreign country.
Like many young players, upon leaving school I watched my mates travel the world while I knuckled down to chase my dream to play for the Wallabies. This was a decision I made gladly and would do it again in an instant. I didn’t resent the gap years my mates took at all; I just figured I had postponed mine. Well, I’m taking my gap year now, and I have moved to France to play for Narbonne in the Pro D2.
Playing in France has always been a double-edged sword. There are the horror stories, but there are also players who come for one year and never leave. I remember Ed Carter arriving at a team in France to discover that the club president had signed him against the coach’s wishes. The coach only spoke French to Ed and Ed spoke no French! It was two months before Ed overheard the coach speaking perfect English to another player. Knowing the possibility that things may not be as smooth as I would like, I chose to come for the experiences, good and bad.
Things here in France are different! Accepting them as such is important. There are some confusing contradictions. Before you can do anything here you need a bank account. To get a bank account you need proof of address. To get a residence you need a bank account. As you can see, this process requires some imagination to navigate but somehow it works! You just have to exploit these nuances. For example: other than restaurants and cafes, everything shuts down from 12 til 2 everyday for lunch.This can impact on your time management but it means that you can park anywhere you want during those hours, as the parking cops knock off too.
Next week we have a bye round so I was thinking of driving the two-and-a-half hours to Barcelona for a few days, or maybe I’ll duck over to San Sebastián. Whatever happens I’ll manage, but wish me luck. Until the next post, check out R(acing) C(lub) N(arbonne) M(éditerannée) at RCNM.com. We’ve had a slow start but we’ll come good!
Hux will be giving us regular doses of his inside view on a range of stuff including rugby and life in France. Suggestions or questions? Send ‘em to us, or tweet @GAGR or @JulianHuxley.