Bamba leads France's new generation

Prop is one of three members of the title-winning World Rugby U20 Championship squad who are ready to graduate with honours.

KUMAMOTO, 25 Sep – Demba Bamba is making a name for himself in the France front row as one of a new generation coming through in Japan.

The 21-year-old tight-head prop made his Rugby World Cup 2019 debut in the 23-21 victory against Argentina on Saturday, coming off the bench after 47 minutes to replace Rabah Slimani.

It has been a meteoric rise for the Brive No.3, who made his France debut against Fiji in November 2018, just a few months after helping France win the World Rugby U20 Championship on home soil.

He and Romain Ntamack both progressed from that team to the World Cup squad and they have been joined in Japan by a third member of that party.

Pierre-Louis Barassi was the man coach Jacques Brunel called up to replace Wesley Fofana after the centre went home injured.

"If we are here, it's not by chance," said Bamba, pictured top. "We all have a part to play and we are going to give it our all to go as far as possible and to give a good impression of the France team.

"Age is no object in this group. It's strange but we don't notice any difference: the older players are at the same level as everyone else.

"Today, we all represent France and that's how we will progress."

With Barassi now on board, too, Bamba said: "Little by little, we find players from the U20 team. I sent him a message to congratulate him. I told him to come out stronger because it will go quickly and, with three games back-to-back, everyone will get a chance."

France are in the middle of a 10-day break between their match against Argentina and their next fixture against the USA in Fukuoka on 2 October.

They then face a run of three matches in 10 days that also features games against Tonga and England.

"It's different from what we have known in the U20s," Bamba said. "The level is higher and there is a little more pressure.

"With the U20s, you could forget about rugby for three days and you still returned to the pitch with the same determination. Here we are always on it - you cannot switch off."

RNS ji/sg/mj/ajr/sw