Assia Khalfaoui, trained at Pont-du-Casse and the SUA, is flying tomorrow with the France team to compete in the World Cup. The Grail for this enthusiast, at only 21 years old…
How did you learn the good news?
I was injured (accromio during an internship this summer, cured since). So I was at home, on my sofa, waiting for the call. It was very, very long, very stressful! When it rang, an increase in additional stress! Then a lot of joy. It was full of emotions, adrenaline coming down. And how much pride.
We imagine that after the official announcement, you received a lot of calls and messages from Lot-et-Garonne…
Yes of course and it makes me happy to represent the area where I come from, even if I play in Bordeaux now. I do not forget. And it’s always nice to have the support of his former clubs.
What does it mean for you to wear the jersey of the France team, moreover during a World Cup?
It is a very great pride. We tell ourselves that if we were selected, it is because we showed good things. Representing son pays is something huge. Even more during a World Cup because when you’re young and you play rugby, it’s a dream.
You are 21 years old. In a few years, your career has exploded.
From my first season in Bordeaux, after leaving the SUA, I participated in a few stages with the French team but nothing concrete. After that, it went very very quickly. The France pole, then because of the Covid, I skipped the under 20s and directly joined the “big” group. It went very fast in a very short time.
And during the last VI Nations Tournament, you are installed in the group.
I started against Scotland then replaced in the other matches.
What did you think of the international level?
This is clearly an additional step compared to what is currently offered in the championship. There’s more play, more speed, more impact. Everything is overwhelmed. It’s a lot more fun when you’re a player, but also more stressful. It is a particular context. But playing with the best, and against the best, is a great challenge that makes me grow.
There have been a few surprises in the list of the women’s XV of France which will play in the World Cup. What do you think this team will be about?
We are relatively young, with versatile players in several positions. There is a revival of the France team, a second wind. I think we have one of the best teams. I trust the staff. They had to take the team they thought was the best.
What is the program before the start of the World Cup?
We arrived in Marcoussis on Saturday. We stay there until Thursday afternoon. Then it’s the big departure for Auckland. The first match will take place on October 8 (against South Africa). That leaves us a bit of leeway to adjust. But it will also be very fast before the start of the competition.
Les Bleues were defeated in the last warm-up match in Italy. Should we be worried about it?
I think it’s not the result that was estimated that day, even if we hope for a victory there. It’s always more reassuring to leave with two wins. But I think we are all aware that it was a mistake. We learn from our defeats. It does not represent the image of this French team and what we are capable of producing.
What objective are you leaving for this World Cup?
Clearly, to be world champions. There are teams that will also have favorite status like New Zealand, England and Canada. We dream of playing them, and above all of beating them.
A World Cup is also an exceptional human adventure…
We are far from home, from our family, from our friends. We are on the other side of the world, immersed in a competition that is physically and mentally tough. We find strength in the group through the moments we live together. It’s something strong.
If you win the World Cup, will you bring it back to Agen and Pont-du-Casse?
I hope !