He doesn’t master the language, even if he knows fifty common words. But he wanted to learn the anthem of the host country with respect to “the team and the Finnish people”. Pierre-Yves Guiban, 28-year-old from Vannes and employee of Areva, the giant French nuclear company, would never have known the thrills of international matches. Nevertheless this amateur rugby player has participated in the prequalification World Cup in 2015 and has 3 selections in an unusual jersey; With Finland, incidentally the worst nation in ranking of International Rugby Board (1OOth among 1OO).
This unusual story finds its source in Rauma, a small town of 40 000 inhabitants in the south-west of the country, construction site of Finnish EPR (new-generation nuclear reactor). Guiban landed in this maritime city almost five years ago, following of his engineering study in civil engineering. He was applying for a VIE (International Volunteering in Company), he was looking for a job abroad, after a 6-months experience for EPR of Flamanville, closed to the Channel. “I had the choice between Dubai and Finland” he says. Finally, I landed in Rauma, I arrived on a Sunday, on Thursday, I was training with the local team, Rauma Ice Pack.” Its blazon? A player with reindeer head, holding a pint of beer in one hand and a balloon in the other…
The team was set up by the pioneers of the EPR construction site and Guiban is regularly crossing many other expatriates. In this frozen desert of Rugby (the Federation was established in 1968 and the country count roughly 15 clubs), the scrum half or fly half (very polyvalent) quickly finds one’s feet. Despite disparate training conditions: “they prohibit the outside practice until late spring because the pitches are too muddy, he says. It therefore leads to a synthetic winterhall, from October until late May.”
The switch comes in Summer 2011. His local team won the Finnish Cup, Guiban attracts the eye of the National team coach, the English Alan Hine. “He was standing aside of the pitch. We had shown a kind of “French flair” and won by twenty-five point’s difference. In the third half, he discussed with our coach, who told him that I lived and worked in the country more than three years.” According to the regulations, the young Breton, who started rugby at 9 years-old and never beyond above the regional level, is eligible for a national selection. He was invited to the national team Camp in October and opens his first cap the next month, against Greece, companion pittance, penultimate team on the ranking of IRB. A 16-6 defeat. “It was a bit droll, we played in front of thirty people”, he says. “The level? It is equal to Federal 3”. The players? “They love contact. We have many former ice-hockey players with us. The body-check is similar to the rugby hit.” He remembers especially his hazing, a small parade, attired in a bib, a hat, a skirt and garters. It sounds a bit like bachelor party” note Guiban. In his last call, versus Bosnia and Herzegovina (Finnish defeat 15-19, April 20th), he stayed on the bench without getting a single minute. “I was disappointed, but I took it upon myself” he says. The complaint of the substitute is universal…
The true performance is the journey he made to achieve Zenica, where he disputed the game, then went back to Rauma. Indeed he left from Paris on Wednesday (he had a professional training in La Defense) in night train, he joined his teammates in Munich, where the selection was stopping before landing in Sarajevo and complete the journey by bus. After the game on Sunday afternoon, the team took off from Split, in Croatia, to reach Helsinki, after a stop in Frankfurt. On the descent of the aircraft at 2am Guiban took a bus to Turku and finally reached Rauma by car in the morning to … go directly to work.
And besides, all it cost him some money: “Yes, it is even a budget, he smiled. The accommodation and the transport are partially paid by the federation. At each trip I put 200 euros from my pocket. And our OEM only provides us the jersey.” Guiban is not complaining, his memories are worth more than expensive. Against Cyprus during his second selection in June 2012 (lost 5-52) he played full-back. “In the opposite team the number fifteen from Cyprus evolved in reserve of Saracens”, he was astonished. “Me, I’m here by accident, I play at an interesting level in an original context, but sometimes I think it’s comic: I’m just here for building a nuclear power plant.”
For two and a half months, he resumed his routine Championship at his new club, Turku Eagles. The next National game is scheduled for 28th of September at home against Greece, and is Guiban in the pre- list 30. To everyone’s is own shock.
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