His arrival in Toulon, the birth of his son, his international career … The pillar Kieran Brookes is revealed

Blue eyes anchored in a laughing gaze. A few words of French tinged with an English accent, Kieran Brookes immediately releases a friendly side. Landed this summer from Wasps, the English international pillar is increasingly making its mark in Toulon.

At 31, he discovers a life « different, even if the living environment here is exceptional. The biggest challenge at the beginning was to adapt to a new language, but it’s getting better, I’m learning slowly », he confides, still with a smile emerging behind his black beard.

If, collectively, the start of the season is stormy, he has rather done the job. And whatever happens on the pitch, Kieran will inevitably keep an unforgettable memory of his time at the RCT. This summer, barely arrived, the guy of 128 kg for 1.88m became a dad.

A little Toulonnais in the luggage

« He’s a little Toulonnais, he was born here in August in the heat », he blurts out in French. Before resuming in the language of Shakespeare. « At first it was a bit complicated for my wife with the move and the birth of the little one, but as I said, coming to France was also getting out of my comfort zone, and now we are very happy. Everything is really relaxed here, even if on the rugby side it is very intense. »

Rugby precisely, let’s come to it. Not necessarily known to the general public, Kieran Brookes still presents a CV as wide as his arms. Passed by Newcastle, Leicester, Northampton and the Wasps, the right pillar also has 17 selections in the jersey of the XV de la Rose between 2010 and 2016.

So how did he get to Toulon? « There are many factors. I had this desire to evolve in France. The way of playing interested me, with this orientation on the play of forwards. I think it suits me well. But it’s also a global experience, with a lifestyle and another culture to know. »

For the record, he could have signed in France a few years ago, but at the time he refused. The selection was still in the back of his mind. « Now my time with the national team is over. I don’t think I have the opportunity to play for England again ».

So, last summer, the planets aligned. With a new championship on the menu that he judges « hard, maybe slower but very tough, very physical. All the players are very strong ». Like many foreigners, the Englishman has to deal with a very busy schedule.

« There are more teams, more matches. In fact, it leaves more traces on the body. But the hardest thing is not the repetition of matches, but the fact that each team is of one very good level. There is no simple weekend. It’s really a different kind of rugby. », he analyzes.

at Toulon, he must also deal with strong competition since he plays in the same position as Beka Gigashvili and Emerick Setiano. Nothing to frighten the subject of his Majesty. « It’s always positive. They are two very good players and this emulation pushes us all to be better players and it is beneficial for the team. »

English and Irish International

A major challenge for the home stretch of a career started very early in the center of England in his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent.

« I started rugby at the age of 4. Later, from 13 to 15, I lived in Australia. My parents had decided to have an experience abroad. I played rugby abroad. school, all the time, but I also played cricket. But I think I was not really the right size for this sport (smile). » From this parenthesis abroad, he remembers a lifestyle quite close to what he discovered in France since last July. In fact, he has already known the need to adapt to « a new life, a new culture, the need to make friends… »

Upon their return from Australia, the Brookes put their suitcases on the side of Newcastle. It was there, at Jonny Wilkinson’s club, that Kieran signed his first professional contract. “I then realized that I could have a career in rugby”, he admits. He who presents a journey that is atypical to say the least.

Before that, he had experienced the first frost of international meetings with selections with … Ireland in less than 18 years. « Yes I had my first contract at 18, before that, I never did a training center. I was not in the system. Lots of Irish live in England, and I’ve played with the Irish Exiles (selection of Irish and Northern Irish rugby union players playing in clubs or in provinces outside the territory). I was contacted as I am half Irish. That’s how I was spotted to play with the U18 team. »

He finally switches to the English flag in less than 20 years before knowing his first selection with the XV de la Rose in 2014 against the All-Blacks. « It was incredible, especially in New Zealand. My father had come to see me play. It’s certainly one of the best memories of my career ».

Before perhaps knowing other emotions in Red and Black. why not?

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