Teenage Rugby Phenom Tuifua Sparks France-All Blacks Tug-of-War

In a high-stakes tug-of-war, the France national rugby union team is hoping to tie down 19-year-old rugby sensation Patrick Tuifua before he becomes eligible for the legendary All Blacks next year. The talented back-rower has been turning heads with his standout performances in New Zealand, and both countries are vying to secure his international future.
2WGCWPY Aix En Provence, France. 03rd Feb, 2024. © Fred/SportPixPress/MAXPPP ; AIX EN PROVENCE ; 03/02/2024 ; RUGBY 6TH NATIONS U20 J1 tuifua (patrick) Credit: MAXPPP/Alamy Live News

France Seeking to Secure Teenage Sensation Patrick Tuifua Ahead of All Blacks

In a tug-of-war for one of rugby’s rising stars, the France national rugby union team is hoping to tie down 19-year-old Patrick Tuifua before he becomes eligible for the All Blacks next year.

Tuifua, born in the French territory of New Caledonia, is currently only qualified to play for Les Bleus, but the youngster is currently plying his trade in New Zealand, raising the prospect of a switch to the famous black jersey.

The talented back-rower, who can also feature at number eight, has been turning heads after impressing for Hawke’s Bay in the NPC and the Hurricanes at age-grade level. His standout performances have now caught the attention of both the French and New Zealand national teams.

“He is selectable, that’s a fact,” said French Rugby Federation (FFR) vice-president Jean-Marc Lhermet. “But the problem concerning him is twofold. First, there is indeed his choice which has not been made.”

Lhermet acknowledged that Tuifua would prefer to play for the All Blacks, but the French are hopeful that a senior call-up during their mid-year series can convince the 19-year-old to commit his international future to Les Bleus.

“If we take him on tour, it is to make him play and if he plays, he will then be blocked by France. It is our wish, our will and he knows it,” Lhermet added.

The French federation is also weighing up whether to include Tuifua in their U20 squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship, which clashes with the senior team’s tour. However, the priority appears to be securing the teenage sensation for the France national rugby union team’s senior setup.

This tug-of-war for Tuifua’s services highlights the fierce competition for the best young talent in international rugby union, with the rugby union and rugby world cup final all likely to be impacted by the outcome.

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