Reda Wardi: who is the pillar of the XV of France?

Reda Wardi should benefit from Cyril Baille's injury to be the starting left pillar of the French XV during his absence.

Reda Wardi: who is the pillar of the XV of France?

Reda Wardi should benefit from Cyril Baille's injury to be the starting left pillar of the French XV during his absence. Who is he ?

He could be the good surprise of this 2023 World Cup on the side of the XV of France. With the injury of Cyril Baille who will not return to the field until after the start of the World Cup, Reda Wardi comes forward as the starting left pillar of the Blues in the opening match against New Zealand. A role that this discreet hard worker would not have imagined, he who, in the fall of 2022, assured that the selection “did not touch” his mind.

Selected for the competition, the 28-year-old player only recently experienced the joys of international matches but quickly established himself in the eyes of the French staff. Born and trained in Montpellier, from Biterrois when he started out in pro rugby and from Rochelais since he hatched, Reda Wardi appears to be a solid client in melee and in the game. Fabien Galthié had even affirmed that he "see[ has] not the limits" of the reigning double European champion.

The beautiful story between Reda Wardi and rugby only began in 2008. Then aged 13, this native of Montpellier (Hérault) was pushed towards the oval ball by his sports teacher in college. After boxing, taekwondo, basketball, swimming and even football, it was finally the last discipline tried that turned out to be the right one. Direction the MHR. If his current size does not allow to believe it, Reda Wardi made his first years far from the first line, going up, over the seasons, the positions one by one. "I started at ... the wing. I occupied all the possible and unimaginable positions before finding myself a pillar, I was center, opener, 3rd and 2nd line", he explained to Daily Sport in January 2023.

It must be said that over the years, the Montpellier player thickens, spending hours in the gym from the age of 16. Bodybuilding ends up making him take the number 1 position and make his mark among the young people of the MHR. The horizon of the first team being blocked - at the time, Montpellier had bet on a South African sector to compose his team -, he signed in Béziers, in ProD2, in the summer of 2015. A second division where the young player (19 years old) cut his teeth. If he has never established himself as the starting left pillar, Reda Wardi has taken on a greater dimension over the four seasons, given his melee abilities.

To the point of being spotted by La Rochelle, who signed him in the summer of 2019. Never indisputable holder given the competition with Dany Priso (except in 2020-2021 with the latter's injury), he is of all La Rochelle epics of recent years: glorious on the European level (2022 and 2023) after the failure of 2021, and frustrating in the Top 14 (defeats in 2021 and 2023). His experience today gives him a head start over his teammate for the position Thierry Paiva and has even opened the doors to the French team for him.

The story between Reda Wardi and the XV of France is recent since it dates back to the fall of 2022. After a series of high-level performances, the pillar is summoned by Fabien Galthié to participate in the fall tour. His arrival in the group was postponed after he received a red card in the championship. No matter, the coach has his confidence in him. Twist of fate: he started with the Blues against South Africa after Cyril Baille's premature injury exit. Wardi holds his own against the reigning world champions. Enough to charm Galthié who would have given him the title of man of the match according to his words and had returned him to the left of the fray against Japan a week later.

Since then, he has participated in the Tournament, simply not playing in Italy, before playing two out of four preparation matches for the World Cup. Enough to convince the tricolor staff to take him on for the competition.