Graceful Gaby The Centre Of Attention

The western Paris suburb of Rueil-Malmaison has had a few notable residents, perhaps the most famous being Napoleon Bonaparte and his beloved Joséphine.

Nestled on the banks of the Seine, and less than 20 km from Paris, the town, as well as its river banks and “guinguette” dance halls, became, at the end of the 19th century, a favourite setting for artists, including Monet, Renoir and Sisley.

But now there is a new artist emerging, French centre Gabrielle Vernier. Born in “Rueil” on 12 June 1997 she began training at the tender age of ten for Rueil Athletic Club. After spending four years at the club, where she developed her knowledge and passion for the game, she moved to Racing Club Nanterre as Rueil had no junior side.

After three years in Nanterre, Gaby continued her rugby journey northwards to Lille to pursue her academic studies and develop her game. In 2016, she made her senior debut for Lille MRCV and won the French championship during her first season at the club. This led to selection for France U20s and her senior international debut came one year later on 11 November 2017, in a match against Spain.

“My studies then took me to the north, to Lille, where I was able to combine my career as a student and a sportswoman. In 2016, I started my senior years at the LMRCV, club de villeneuve d’ascq. During these Lille years, I was lucky to be selected in the French team under 20 years old and then in the French Senior team the following year when I had the opportunity to make some appearances. Since 2018, I have been under a semi-professional contract with the French rugby federation”.

Gabrielle Vernier left Lille to join Blagnac Rugby Féminin where she currently plays her club rugby. “I wanted to change my air and challenge myself. It’s going really well. It is a dynamic club, with a very well-supervised group of young people. A real happiness! ” says the general engineering graduate.

The Rugby World Cup in New Zealand was an incredible experience especially that wonderful semi-final which France lost 25-24 to eventual winners New Zealand. Gaby’s 39th minute try shook the Black Ferns and gave France an unexpected half time lead.

She says she will never forget the memories lining up for her first le Marseillaise with the U20’s in Esher, and the second time in Mont-de-Marsan. “It’s the first time I played in front of so many people, it made a big impression on me.”

In her spare time she plays the saxophone and has certainly been hitting all the right notes in the Tik Tok Womens Six Nations tournament this year with three tries in the opening two games, one against Italy in Parma, and a pair in Cork against Ireland.

The combination of grace beauty and power that she possesses are in the French DNA database tapped into by of all the great centres that have worn that wonderful blue shirt, irrespective of their gender.

France face England in the next round of the Tik Tok Womens Six Nations and Gabrielle will be looking to engineer a try or two at Twickenham.


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