Gaëlle Hermet was born in Clermont-Ferrand on 12 June 1996, then moved to Carmaux in the Tarn region when she was 6 years old.
Rugby in the garden with brothers Dorian, Jorys and Hugo, rugby on television, chatting rugby at the meal table like so many families in the rugby mad Tarn region, ignited her passion for the game.
“My rugby life began when I was eleven. I did it for a year before starting athletics. But I was addicted to rugby and I resumed at the age of thirteen at US Carmaux in the Tarn. It must be said that in my family, everyone played my father played it, my three brothers play it. Even if I am the eldest, I wanted to follow them. After Carmaux, I did a year younger in Albi because I had to go to a women’s team, then I left for two years in Saint Orens, and then to Stade Toulousain”.
“I joined the Pôle Espoir Jolimont in Toulouse and then I did internships in elite centres. At the time when I was 15 years old, I knew nothing about all this, the first time I was summoned to the French team, it was a big surprise and I enjoyed it. The selections for the Under 20s were a very beautiful human adventure and the first experience of what the high level can be“.
“From the under 20s to France Féminines, it is still a big step to take. I am very lucky to have had a fairly linear trajectory in Rugby term and hard work always ends up paying off if you are rigourous and applied. ”
She made her senior France debut on 1 July 2016 against the USA and a year later was made captain at the tender age of twenty-one.
“In 2014, watching the Women’s World Cup was a real turning point for me. Seeing what women’s rugby was for people, and the media recognition makes you want to be part of it. I was 17 years old, it made me dream. And I now understand what it feels like to players who are starting rugby. In the end, I never thought I would have reached this point, at least not to have the status I have today. It’s really pure happiness. I think it’s the grail in a career as a player but you shouldn’t get eaten by your emotions. You have to manage and as it remains rugby, you just have to have fun”
Bravery on the rugby field is a given for those at the elite level, but when bravery is required off the field during a deadly global pandemic, well that is a different matter, but one which the affable back row forward faced up to on a daily basis.
During the awful days of the Covid-19 pandemic Gaëlle spent her time fully focussed on her vocation as an occupational therapist at a care home in Cadours. She had studied psychology at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès before going on to study occupational health.
Captain of France at the delayed 2021 Rugby World 2021 in New Zealand, she won her 50th cap in the victory over Canada, and played a big part in that wonderful semi-final which France narrowly lost 25-24 to the Black Ferns the eventual winners.
Gaëlle has been used off the bench against both Italy and Ireland in this seasons tournament, but won her starting place back for the match against Scotland and scored a try, as was the case yesterday against Wales in Grenoble where she was named player of the match.
With 54 caps and 7 tries for her country she now has Twickenham on her radar and the hope of blowing away a few Red Roses on the way to a Grand Slam.