Yoan Tanga Mangene – Third line of the XV of France – Very well during the tour of Blues in Japan, the neo-Rochelais returns for us to the excitement of his first selections …
Remember the day they told you, “Friday tour, Yoan! »?
Let’s just say the day I found out I was going to play Baa-Baath at Twickenham, I started to believe it. After this meeting, in the locker room, Fabien Galthié officially announced that the players who took part in this match (there were nineteen French in London, ed.) Would all be touring Japan.
How did you react?
I was super happy, well … France’s XV was the goal I set for myself at the start of the season.
How did you experience your first Marseilles, in Japan?
It was weird, frankly … I was thinking about anything and everything: my family, my friends … Then, as I listened to the heart of La Marsellesa, I left a little: I looked at the stands and said that there was not a single French fan in the stadium, that we, the players, were the only ones to sing it … I got into a thousand things, what …
What did the tricolor staff ask you on this tour of Asia?
The coaches had told me that I only thought about my qualities: I had to carry the balls, move the team forward …
It’s always hard to look back on your own performance – but how did you find yourself this summer?
I was pretty good with the Baa-Baas, for the first game against England. Then, with the French national team, we defended a lot against these Japanese who were attacking from everywhere and I got in tune: I tackled a lot, what …
I can do better, but my first two games (on the French team) are rather two good ones.
Japan is a somewhat atypical team on the international circuit, in the sense that it plays a lot of handball. Were you surprised?
Yes a lot. We had prepared for the first test by telling ourselves that the Japanese would play like the Europeans, kicking … And then attacking any loose ball! In the second, when we expected more or less the same, his first goal threw four balls of five. […] This Japanese team is really original, amazing: in any case, it does not look like anything we can know in the Top 14 or the Champions Cup.
Have you ever played with so much heat?
No. Physically, these two matches were also very tough. The heat is still going on … But the humidity makes you feel like you’re in a hammam: you sweat, you breathe badly …
Of all the congratulatory messages you received before and after the tour, which one touched you the most?
My mother cried, she was very proud. It was super touching.
You told us, however, in a previous interview, that your childhood dream at the beginning was to be a footballer …
When I was little I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my idol Juninho (Brazilian footballer who went through Lyon, ed.). I wasn’t bad on the field, although I broke the opposing attackers too much. Still, I joined the Tremblay-en-France (Seine Saint-Denis) rugby club and, for me, the trigger took place on the eve of the 2011 World Cup final. I cried in front of the my TV, This day.
What do you aspire to now?
Like everyone who has tasted the French national team, I have only one wish: to return. […] I dream of competing in the 2023 World Cup, although the road to it is still very long …
For a few years now you have considered yourself a great hope for the third line in France. Why did your hatch take so long?
Good question … After my first season in Agen (2017), we were already talking about the French national team. If I signed for Racing it was precisely to get my first selections.
What was the trigger, exactly?
It may sound trivial but the three kilos I lost at the start of the season have done me a lot of good. In the field, I move a lot more than before.
What surprised you most about the working method of the XV of France?
The prep work is pretty crazy. Before matches, we have access to an incredible mass of information about the rival, about ourselves: even the staff asks us to analyze our direct rival and present him to our teammates, during a meeting. I found it great.
Where is your room for improvement?
In ruck areas. I have to be more effective there than I am now.
What did Les Bleus staff tell you after the tour?
There was no particular explanation, but I think they were happy with me. This summer I played three out of three games.
At the Stade Rochelais, you will find the other number 8 of the XV of France in a few weeks, namely Grégory Alldritt. How do you imagine this coexistence?
It can only be beneficial as we have different qualities. He and I are also able to play on the side of the third row. For me, this coexistence will be a real plus.
What will you do on your vacation?
I’m already moving and he’s grabbing my head! (laughs) Then next week, we’re going on vacation with Dany Priso, Cameron Woki and Sekou Macalou. We will resume on August 8th.