Rugby Sevens, XIII, XV, XVI, XVII… Jordan Poleto has tried all possible formats. But his best is that he has been practicing since 2012 in France, far from his native New Zealand. After arriving at American club Carcassonne this season, the 31-year-old winger tells us about his football career. His love for France, which he does not intend to leave any time soon…
If everything had gone as your family wanted, you should have taken the rugby union route…
In my family, rugby is a religion. My father is a former professional. Play in the United States. My three brothers play rugby union. So, naturally, when I start rugby at nine, in Auckland, you’re thirteen. I didn’t discover rugby union until I was fifteen. They tried to convince me to keep going at thirteen but I really wanted to give it a try. Rugby union is more cerebral than rugby union. You don’t just have to run and dash through the crowd. There are more things to think about. This is what I like. I continued to work as an amateur until I was nineteen years old. Then I was offered my first contract with the Sevens rugby team which is still in Auckland, New Zealand. Two years later, at the age of 21, she arrived in France.
Why did you want to leave Mecca Rugby for France?
My coach at the time was the father of international Luke McAllister, who was playing at Stade Toulouse at the time. He believed that I had all my chances to develop in France. And then, I wanted to see something else, to take a trip. to challenge myself. French culture attracted me. In general, New Zealand rugby players come to end their career in France, not start it. I did the opposite. I’ll be here soon in ten years. I was built in this country, learned to live alone, to become independent.
How was your arrival in France?
In 2012, she signed for two years in Périgueux. My French was non-existent, and I understood absolutely nothing. I just nodded. Learning to live on my own, without my family, was not an easy task either. I had an apartment, a car … a guide. Except I only knew how to drive automation! At red lights, I sometimes asked strangers to drive my car home because I couldn’t find the first one. I know snow, too. I had never seen one before in my life… What surprised me when I arrived was how polite the French were. Hey here, hello there, it’s different in New Zealand. Fashion too, I found the French to be very sophisticated. At home, we put on a T-shirt and shorts and a presto, the day begins. short. After these two years in Périgueux, I signed in Auch. I was the only foreign player on the team. I stayed there for a year. Then I spent 5 years in Béziers. There I met my son’s mother.
And then Christian Labette, Director of US Carcassonne called you…
At Agen, my sophomore year was awful. We lost all matches. There was a bad atmosphere between the foreigners and the French in the team. That’s when Christian Labette called me. He suggests that I come and play in Carcassonne. I did not immediately accept. I told him I would think about it. Having had the opportunity to play against them a few times when I was at Béziers, I had the image of a strong team. As soon as he arrived, the feeling passed instantly. The staff couldn’t do enough for me. More than anywhere else anyway, probably because of my age.
How would you describe your good start to the season?
I guess if I’m good it’s because my wife is happy here. She is close to her family, she can see them as often as she wants. While in Agen, it was complicated. And since she’s happy, I’m happy. And when I’m happy, I play better. This is how I work. If she’s not happy, I’m not good on the court…
How do you imagine the rest?
My life, I see it clearly here. I don’t see myself giving up everything I built in France. Although I miss New Zealand fast food a lot. I see myself continuing rugby for as long as possible. My body will decide. Then I would like to teach sports in schools to convey this passion and these values. I plan to graduate. I don’t care at all about becoming a coach or doing business like so many others, it’s very stressful.
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