Jessy Trémoulière will no longer be seen on the rugby pitch with the France women's team. She made this choice before the start of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations in order to give priority to her day job and take over the family's organic mixed farming business in the Haute-Loire with her father and brother.
"My father is 68 years old, and he can no longer take over when I am away for a long time to join the French national team," she explained to Midi Olympique in March. "I'm going to be away for three weeks and that's a lot."
But before she heads off, she would like to pass on one last strong message to her current and future team-mates. A message inspired by the exceptional experiences she has accumulated during her 78 caps since making her debut against Italy on 29 October, 2011. A test career with ups and downs.
The highs include her two Grand Slams in 2014 and 2018, years that mean a lot to her. 2014 because it also included third place at Rugby World Cup in France (she has since won two more bronze medals in 2017 and 2022).
"That was the trigger on the media momentum, as a viewer and spectator," she said.
And 2018, in which France secured a first win against the then five-time world champions New Zealand, in Grenoble.
"We also had a tournament where I personally enjoyed it and collectively there are still very good memories. That's what's beautiful, that we can talk about it five or 10 years later. I have to say that every year I have had great memories with the group," she recalled.
The low points include the last Rugby World Cup, where her lack of game time was a big surprise.
Or her yellow card in her final match on 29 April at Twickenham in front of a record crowd of 58,498. It just goes to show that you can be the best and still be vulnerable.
"I LEAVE IT ALL IN THEIR HANDS...”
Trémoulière will no longer be on the field to write chapters with this new generation which is arriving and which she will from now on watch from the stands. But, she wants to share what she has learned.
"Rugby is still a sport, a sport between friends, between buddies," she said, as women's rugby continues to break records and attract crowds. "I'm happy for the future, for the girls who are going to experience this. For women's world rugby. You can see that there's a real rush of people wanting to come and see women's rugby.
"In France, we sold out (in Vannes and Grenoble). It's true that with all the excitement around it's a pleasure. It's a pleasure to see so many people in the stands with smiles on their faces, cheering us on. At the end, when we do the lap of honour, to see so many people happy and saying thank you to us, it's pure happiness and I hope it will be repeated in the years to come.
"We had a group that was really united, that was really tight. We were friends on the pitch, we were buddies and that's where I had my best moments. So, if I ever have a message to pass on, it's really to enjoy everything, to really be a united group and to have fun on the field.
"The image I wanted to leave is a positive one, to put the girls on the right track, to see what the high performance is, to see how far we can go. I leave it all in their hands and I hope that they will realise that you have to work hard to have fun. And then, on the pitch, we'll have all the more fun."
A message received by number eight Charlotte Escudero, who is experiencing the rise of women's rugby without having seen it being born. "We're just discovering it. It's true that we're filling the stadiums for this Six Nations in France. We went from 11,000 to 18,000 and now 58,000. So yes, it's crazy," she said.
"I remember when there was the World Cup, it was in 2014 (in France), I came here and there was a little bit of a crowd around the stadium in Marcoussis. People were standing next to the pitch and now we fill stadiums with 58,000 people."
BEST PLAYER OF THE DECADE
For this new generation of players, Trémoulière remains a role model. "Jessy is a name that we have heard for years in women's rugby. Obviously, she has left her mark on women's rugby," admits Blagnac winger Mélissande Llorens, one of the stars of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations 2023 for France.
"We are lucky to have been able to play alongside her. She is a great player. And honestly, Jessy is the mother of the group. As she said, she tries to put the group in the best conditions, to bring us her knowledge, her experience.
"She will leave everything in our hands, and it will be up to us to put things in place in the same vein as Jessy."
Escudero added: "Everyone knows Jessy Trémoulière. She's really been the key player in the French team for years. She hasn't been a role model for me personally because we don't play the same position, but it's true that she has been a figure of French rugby that everyone knows and that I adored when I was younger.
"And now to play alongside her, it's really crazy. When you are led by Jessy Trémoulière, it's different."
Trémoulière made it clear that it was through hard work that she was crowned World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Decade in partnership with Tudor in 2020 by public approval – Richie McCaw was her male counterpart – two years after being crowned World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year 2018 in association with Mastercard.
Despite losing to England on the final day of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, she became France's all-time leading points scorer in this competition scoring three penalties to take her tally to 288, just ahead of Estelle Sartini (282) who had held the record since 2006.
In total, Trémoulière scored 428 points on all the pitches in the world thanks to her exceptional footwork – "a footwork equal to that of the boys; it's enormous," praised her former coach Annick Hayraud – including 26 tries, 36 penalties and 95 conversions. Despite 24 defeats, Trémoulière won 53 matches with the French women's team.
The record is more mitigated with France sevens, with whom she played 25 matches on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series between 2016-18, scoring seven tries in 15 wins and 10 losses.
But in 15s, her biggest rivalries remained with England, whom she played the most; 20 times, winning only six and losing 14.
She expresses one regret in this regard: not having been able to play against Emily Scarratt in the last Crunch on 29 April. "It's true that we've been following each other for most of our careers and they were great matches," she said when the teams were announced.
New Zealand (undefeated in two games) and Canada (one win in four games) remain the teams she loved playing against.
Although the full-back/fly-half has decided to hang up her international boots, her desire to play remains strong.
At 31 years old, she intends to continue playing for the Romagnat club with which she has been playing since 2010. Come on, one more season for fun and enjoyment and then it will be over.