Arriving in Aude at the beginning of July, Thibault Clauzade left his Gers forever to discover professional rugby. The third line decided to take on a new challenge, after having lived everything under the jersey of Auch. Portrait of a new asset of Racing Club Narbonnais.
Last Friday (August 5) on the lawn of Leucate, for the first friendly match of Narbonne (defeat 7-12), a player with a gray helmet illuminated the meeting with his activity and his commitment. Under this helmet, hides Thibault Clauzade (24 years old, 1.83 m, 97 kg), one of the new players of Racing Club Narbonnais for National 1.
And the least we can say is that during this match against Montauban, he gave satisfaction to the Narbonnais staff and to Brice Mach, coach of the forwards: “He had an interesting match, even if it’s the first. There is waste to erase, but he was very effective. Thibault has a lot of room for improvement.” For its premiere in its new colors, the third line experienced a special sensation: “At the beginning, it’s weird to open the jersey bag, to see “orange and black” and to wear other colors than the “white and red” of Auch (laughs).”
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It was not an easy decision, but we must move on
It was at the age of four that Thibault Clauzade first set foot on a rugby pitch. During his early years, the young boy followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Julien. First at ASF Fleurance, then in Auch, where he spent fifteen years. The third line did not go to a training center nor did it follow a classic route. He is formed over the years and experiences with his Gers club. At only 24 years old, this player has already known almost everything.
In 2017, he saw FC Auch file for bankruptcy and disappear. At the same time, the Auch Rugby Club was formed and took over. The RCA therefore begins its history in the Honor Division in 2017. New management, new staff, and new coach, a page is turned. Grégory Menkarska, the new manager, who has followed Thibault since the junior category, decides to build his workforce around him: “He’s the only player who stayed at the club when he played in Honour. So it was obvious to build around him. He made huge sacrifices. Compared to what he has done for this club, there was no discussion about making him captain, despite his young age.”
After having experienced three consecutive climbs, a title of champion of France of Federal 3 in 2019, Thibault Clauzade makes the decision to change club and take up a new challenge. 1uh last July, he signed an agreement with Jean-Jacques Justumus, president of Auch, which put an end to his contract binding him to the RCA until 2023. And in the process, he joined Racing Club Narbonnais for two seasons , a decision carefully considered by this young player: “Professional rugby has always provided me, and when Narbonne contacted me, Julien (Séron, Editor’s note) convinced me in my choice to come. It was not an easy decision, since I had a job that I liked (in charge of soft mobility in the Gers, with many projects in his department, he had just obtained his diploma from the civil service, editor’s note), I was captain of Auch. But we have to move forward and I am fully in the project here.”
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A versatile and very hard-working third line
Thibault Clauzade can be evaluated as well in the third wing line, as in the third center line. This 24-year-old player has a specific profile, as Brice Mach explains: “He is complete, he does not speak much. He works, he is very precise. It’s a profile we were looking for, he has a natural leadership. This is one of the points that jumped out at us, it’s a strong signal to be captain of Auch at his age and with a coach like Menkarska.” For his part, the Auch coach knows him very well: “He’s not a big puncher, but he is in avoidance and with an exceptional quality of speed. With or without the ball, he surprises. He not to to sort never in defense and when he can put on a good caramel, he puts it on. Narbonne has recovered our best player.”
If Auch is still in his heart, so much so that during his only week of vacation, he returned to the Gers, he has now made his mark at RC Narbonnais: “Such an opportunity doesn’t happen twice in a career. It’s true that the rhythm is different, from what I’ve been able to know. I already know a few players who come from Auch, like the Ducom brothers and Sylvain Abadie, so the integration was easy.”
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The Racing season will actually start on September 3 at the sports park (6:30 p.m.), with an explosive first confrontation against Nice. Yet not yet in Narbonne during the National semi-final in 2021, Thibault Clauzade has still heard of this opponent: “I thought I understood that there was a great rivalry between Narbonne and Nice. So we know it will be tough, we have to work, prepare well and we will attack firmly this new season. Closeness with the supporters , it’s very important. Given the calendar, we will need our supporters, and we are counting on them.”
With the experience he had in Auch, the RCN will be able to count on Thibault Clauzade throughout the season, in difficult times, as in the best.