“Santa before the clock”: Toulonnaise Charlotte Escudero looks back on her World Cup with XV France

"Santa before the clock": Toulonnaise Charlotte Escudero looks back on her World Cup with XV France

The last time we heard from you, in September, you had just celebrated your first cap and were dreaming of participating in the World Cup. Now you have seven selections and a bronze medal… Crazy, right?

I couldn’t have imagined that everything would go so fast (laughter). Then I just got back to the “high level” At the beginning of 2022 I almost gave up and just wanted to play in the club. And finally, less than a year later, I experienced the World Cup in New Zealand… It was more than a dream.

Especially since with six matches, including five starts, we can say that you were a great player in the world…

The most surprising thing for me was the announcement of my mandate for the opening match, against South Africa… On Monday we had a meeting after dinner, in the hotel, and there I see the numbers scrolling across the huge screen. Number 1, 2, 3 and when 6 arrives I see my name displayed. Knowing the players in my position, I told myself that I was lucky, it was an incredible emotion: to live the opening game of the World Cup in New Zealand, in Eden Park…

And is the international level so impressive?

I was surprised by the influences, the patterns. Facing Blacks, Englishmen or South Africans, I came out in a thousand pieces. Every day after the game I had an appointment with the physiotherapist (laughter). I had my body chewed up, but it was great.

You finally finished third in the competition. Emotionally, where does this bronze medal stand in your career?

So go ahead! I had some cool moments in the youth categories, but the French national team is the ultimate dream. I was like a child (laughs). I remember, after the last whistle of the final, which we attended, we entered the field for the awarding of medals, and I found myself with a medal around my neck, cuddling with English and New Zealand women, in front of a full stadium. I was mesmerized by the atmosphere, everything that was going on…

Have you taken the time to understand the course of the world?

No, I didn’t really have time to get high, to understand… I was in my room with another young person, Lina Queyroi, and sometimes we sat down, we said to ourselves: “We are in New Zealand, playing the World Cup, while we were substitutes in Blagnac a few months ago, do you understand? (laughs).

What do you dream about at night during the World Cup? From his family? matches? Should I lift the trophy?

We sleep rugby, get up rugby, eat rugby… So we often go to bed thinking about the upcoming game. There are only days off where we break up a bit, try to call relatives despite the twelve hour time difference… In terms of activities, the staff allowed us to get to know the Maori community. We sang with them, it was strong. But we didn’t have much time for sightseeing, visiting (laughter).

When it’s time to turn the page, what moment will be the strongest in your world?

Haka in the semi-finals, probably… The girls informed us, told us to take advantage, but not to leave the meeting. And it’s true that at one point we were tight and I let myself go. I wanted to take advantage, because it was perhaps the only time in my career that I experienced a hack at Eden Park. I watched, I listened, I was a small observer of the moment, it was strong. I looked at the New Zealanders one by one and smiled. I didn’t want to stare at my feet or be held back, but enjoy myself, knowing I was sure I could swing.

How did you communicate with your loved ones during the competition?

Every day I received my mother by SMS. She wanted to know what I was doing, so I sent her my schedule. My father and I called each other from time to time… The meeting, even according to tradition, was after the announcement of the lineup, and above all after the games, in the dressing room, to talk about the game, the report, think about something else… And I felt that I made them proud, which really touched me…

Will this World Cup change your life?

No, because I remain one of the unknowns of the team. There are girls who are much more visible than me, like Caroline Drouin, Romana Ménager. I finally experienced a strange scene on the train…

Are we listening to you?

On my way back to Toulon, I see a gentleman turn around and ask me if I play for XV France. It was funny to me, we were talking and I said to myself, “So that’s what is recognized?” It was strange, because it was the first time (laughter). However, I remain a small young person that we don’t really know (laughter).

What memories did you take with you to France?

My back felt heavy (laughs). The girls had a blast, but I spent a lot of time in the All Blacks shop. I brought back some clothes, a treat… We don’t go to New Zealand every day, and black people’s clothes, anyway! When I got home, I was a bit like Santa an hour ago (laughs). I told my parents and sister: “Put on the sofa, close your eyes and stretch out your arms”. I gave them things that were important to me, a medal for participating in the World Cup, a jersey for the match against Italy, with the number 8, which was my dad’s position…

Where will you put your medal?

I will try to frame it with my jersey from the minor final, to place them in my apartment in Blagnac.

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