Analysis: Thomas Ramos – the old school player who could be France’s future

The headline in France’s team announcement to face Scotland was Jacques Brunel’s decision to pair 22-year-old Antoine Dupont with 19-year-old Romain Ntamack in the half-backs.

The headline in France’s team announcement to face Scotland was Jacques Brunel’s decision to pair 22-year-old Antoine Dupont with 19-year-old Romain Ntamack in the half-backs.

Just as crucial, however, could be the call to hand Thomas Ramos a first Test start at full-back – the third Toulouse player brought into the side.

Where Dupont has been tipped for the top since breaking through as a 17-year-old at Castres, and Ntamack – son of the legendary Emile – is the youngest player in the Guinness Six Nations, Ramos’ progression has been more under the radar.

Now 23, he has had to bide his time for an opportunity, first at club level, and now on the international scene.

And yet he could be the key man for Les Bleus in Round Three as they look to bounce back from a heavy defeat in England.


At 1m78 and just 85kg, Ramos is something of a throwback in terms of size, and instead relies on his elusiveness as a counter-attacker.

Anyone who has watched Toulouse this season will be aware of just how dangerous he can be with the ball in his hands – reminiscent at times of another great Toulouse full-back, Clément Poitrenaud, who is an assistant coach at the club. It is no surprise that Ramos has emerged as a darting, deceptively quick runner under Poitrenaud’s supervision.

However it did not always look as though Ramos would make it to the very highest level.

Ramos learned his craft at Mazamet – the club best known for producing Lucien Mias who along with Jean Prat was one of the great forwards France produced in the 1950s.

At 15 he moved schools to Toulouse, about an hour and a half away, joining the Stade academy at the same time but he made just six appearances in three seasons for the first team – starting as many games as he received red cards – one of each.


Although he had come through the ranks as a fly-half, Ramos settled in at full-back with France Under-20s, and it is in that position that he will start against the Scots.

In 2016 though, his path to the top seemed to a murky one leading him to join Colomiers for a season on-loan.

That year in Pro D2, where he played alongside former France and Toulouse fly-half David Skrela, could not have gone better. Ramos racked up 345 points on his way to being the league’s top-scorer and being named player of the season.

He returned to Toulouse a year later a much more confident player and quickly established himself as first choice, both at full-back and from the kicking tee.

Last year he notched 277 points, good enough for third in the league as Toulouse returned to the Top 14 play-offs after a year away, and he has gone from strength to strength this season.


Toulouse sit top of the table in the Top 14 this year, having lost just twice all year, with Ramos one of the first names of the teamsheet.

With Les Bleus he was forced to watch from the sidelines on the opening weekend where Wales came from behind to win in Paris, before the unenviable task of making his Test debut in place of Yoann Huget as France’s back three were peppered by England.

While he was never going to orchestrate a comeback at Twickenham, Ramos showed enough to earn Brunel’s confidence and a first start – while he will also be charged with kicking duties against the Scots.

Given his height, he will certainly be tested under the high ball, but as he has shown in Europe with Toulouse this season, his counter-attacking can be a real threat.

His ability to marshal the back three will be crucial, starting alongside clubmate Huget and Damian Penaud – with whom he played at age group level (below).

By his own admission Ramos is someone who enjoys the simple things in life. If he can do those simple things right against Scotland he may just be the key to France’s hopes of a renaissance.