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In the Spotlight: Arthur Retiere

In the Spotlight: Arthur Retiere

In the Spotlight: Arthur Retiere

Guinness Six Nations Championship Round 5, Stade de France, Paris, France 31/10/2020 France vs Ireland France's Arthur Retiere celebrates with his team after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

One of the most in-form wingers in the northern hemisphere since domestic rugby’s post-lockdown return, La Rochelle flyer Arthur Retiere will be eyeing the Autumn Nations Cup as an opportunity to show what he can do at international level.

Retiere made his long-awaited France bow off the bench in the closing stages of their Six Nations victory over Ireland on October 31 and will now hope for a chance to feature from the start against Scotland and Italy in Group B.

The 23-year-old has lit up the Top 14 in recent seasons as well as shining on the European stage to establish himself as one of French rugby’s most promising talents.

And with the likes of Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, 23 and 21 respectively, already looking like fixtures in the French side for the next decade, can Retiere join them?

One to watch

Retiere first appeared on the French rugby radar as a Sevens star, helping his country to a gold medal at the Summer Youth Olympics in 2014.

Having graduated to the senior set-up, his natural scoring instinct was shown by 15 tries in 20 matches in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in 2016, while he also appeared in several stages of the build-up to that summer’s Olympics in Rio.

Retiere was equally adept in the 15-a-side code and was handed a debut by La Rochelle shortly after his 19th birthday, when he lined up against Benetton in the European Challenge Cup in November 2016.

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A scrum-half in his early days, Retiere made 24 appearances in his first season with the club – 12 of which came as a starter – as they topped the table in the regular Top 14 season, only to be defeated by Toulon in the semi-finals. He also impressed on the continental stage, scoring four tries in seven Challenge Cup games in 2016/17.

A knee ligament injury picked up early in the 2017/18 campaign interrupted his progress but Retiere quickly got back into his stride when fit again, transforming himself into one of the French top tier’s most feared wingers.

Try-scoring threat

Retiere has become a regular name on the La Rochelle scoresheet in recent seasons, crossing seven times in the Top 14 in 2018/19 and on nine occasions the following season, which saw him finish as the competition’s top try scorer.

The long break through lockdown did nothing to slow the electric winger down and he simply picked up where he left off when Top 14 rugby returned in September.

Retiere scored four times in as many games at the start of the season, the highlight coming when he crossed for a hat-trick in a 62-3 victory over Castres in October, leading to selection in the France squad for their final Six Nations game against Ireland.

The 23-year-old showed glimpses of what he is capable of in the final eight minutes against Ireland, making 20 metres from his three carries, and will hope further opportunities lie in wait through the remainder of the autumn – particularly in the absence of Damian Penaud through injury.

Retiere knows what it takes to compete against the best and impressed for La Rochelle in the European Champions Cup last season, making 148 metres from 22 carries and beating 22 defenders in the process.

But international rugby is another step up and the Autumn Nations Cup could give French supporters the chance to assess whether they have unearthed another gem.

There are no shortage of options for Fabien Galthie in his back three but the temptation to unleash his in-form wing must be a strong one.

With France looking back to their free-flowing best in this year’s Six Nations, Retiere should fit right in with Les Bleus as they look to end an impressive 2020 in style.

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