From fly-half for Loughborough fifth XV to Grand Slam winner in just five years sounds like something written in a script, yet for France lock Thibaud Flament it is now reality.
The 6ft8in lock forward was playing in Bucs four in 2017, but five years later and he was lifting the Guinness Six Nations trophy at a packed Stade de France in what he describes as “a long ride.”
France had not won the Championship since 2010, let alone with a Grand Slam, but at his first attempt Flament is part of an era-defining France team who have re-announced themselves as a global heavyweight.
France scored early through Gaël Fickou, before a François Cros try on the stroke of half-time handed them a comfortable 18-6 lead, but in the second half it was a little more tense when Freddie Steward scored for England.
That was until Guinness Six Nations Player of the Match Antoine Dupont dotted down under the sticks to hand France a 12-point cushion, which proved to be unassailable.
Flament was delighted after the game, saying: “It’s an amazing feeling, it was a very tough game, incredibly intense and I’m just very happy that we made it in the end.
“I still haven’t realised what’s happened, it’s amazing, just the feeling at the end of the game, it was so good to share it with all the boys in the packed stadium. It was an amazing feeling and I’m so proud.
“We knew coming into it that it was going to be a very tough game for 80 minutes. We started very well, it was a bit frustrating that we couldn’t finish off some good set-pieces.
“But our defence was very good as well, and we managed to keep it consistent, they came back in the second half, but we managed to get the win in the end.”
When talking about his simply fairy-tale rise to European glory, Flament added: “It’s been a very long journey, it’s been a long ride, there’s still a lot to be done, but I’m very happy to be part of this.
“I’m just grateful for the support I have received throughout my journey, and I’m very happy for France!”