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Challenge Cup: Léo Berdeu, the opening half who takes up space at LOU


1m95, close to 100 kilos, Léo Berdeu has rather the physique of a third line. However, it is in the Lyon hinge that this young 23-year-old player explodes all the counters. To the point of having discovered the XV of France this winter.

Romain Ntamack and Matthieu Jalibert will tell you about the lovers of the oval.

Louis Carbonel, Antoine Hastoy, Joris Segonds, or the versatile Thomas Ramos and Anthony Bouthier, will answer the discerning observers of the Top 14. France has a host of young 10s (six of the seven players aged 26 or under) and could compose a XV of (almost) high level only halfbacks.

However, the top scorer and director of the Top 14 this season is called Léo Berdeu, the opening half who could shake up the competition in the France team.

He will turn 24 on June 13.

Léo Berdeu, also a young flyhalf, has exploded onto the scene in recent months.

With the LOU, the native of Cannes is already having the best season of his career.

After a discreet 2020-2021 season for his return to the capital of Gaul, the opening half has become a leader of the Rhone club.

Barred, in part, by Jonathan Wisniewski last season (who retired last summer), Léo Berdeu begins the season in the shoes of number 1 opener.

But, quickly, the LOU formalizes the arrival of Lima Sopoaga.

However, the 31-year-old New Zealander had his first start in France only on October 30, leaving his French counterpart all the time to take the lead.

Two days before the end of the championship, the

former All Black (17 caps) has six tenures in the Top 14 against... 17 for the Frenchman.

A sign that “La Berd” has taken over.

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A clear path

His late integration benefited me.

Now I'm glad he's here.

Without competition, you don't move forward.

Now I get along really well with him, he's a good guy!

He is over thirty years old, he knows that the future of the club is certainly more me than him,

” explained Leo Berdeu, stung by the arrival of Lima Sopoaga, in an interview with

L’Équipe .


But rather than get offended or shut in on himself, the 23-year-old decided to take on this competition in the healthiest way possible, to redouble his efforts and take advice from someone who has already played in three different countries.

Announced as the “star” of Lyon recruitment, the former player of the Dunedin Highlanders or the London Wasps is finally relegated to the bench by the one who made his range in Grasse.

Son of Eric Berdeu, former three-quarters of Tarbes, Léo grew up in the world of ovality.


At home, everything revolves around rugby.

I get up rugby, I eat rugby, I live rugby.

Since I was born.

My father played rugby, my brother, my cousins ​​play rugby, my grandfather played, my uncles.

Even my mum works at the rugby school.

It's a family passion,

”sums up the opener, still at



And it was at Rugby Olympique de Grasse, 20 kilometers from his hometown, that the child from Cannes would discover rugby.

Anyone who immediately predestines himself as an opening half will stay there all his childhood.

Joined the club at the age of five, he left only ten years later to join the big club of the region.

The Berdeu son crosses a hundred kilometers and continues his training at the RCT.

In the Var, he will play more at the back, barred by a certain Louis Carbonel at the opening.

A Var experience punctuated by a title of champion of France Crabos.

To continue his training, the one who is just of age commits to Lyon, a team which oscillates at the time between relegation in Pro D2 and promotion to the Top 14.

Léo Berdeu during his first tenure in the Top 14 on September 8, 2018. Panoramic.

A mature player

In Lyon, the young Léo Berdeu, then 18 years old, will not immediately play with the pros.

Arrived in the summer of 2016, he will only play one game in his first season: a 12-minute start on the last day of the championship against Grenoble.

No minute in pro the following season.

The opener is relegated to the Lyon Espoirs for two years.

To save playing time, the former RCT went on loan to the SUA for two seasons.

A risk for both the club and the player, since at 20 Léo Berdeu will be thrown into the deep end of the Top 14.

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In Agen, the opening half takes on a new dimension.

He discovered the championship and Europe, via the Challenge Cup, in his first season.

In Lot-et-Garonne, Léo Berdeu becomes a cornerstone of the project.

The number 10 took part in a total of 42 matches in two years, including eight European matches.

Two seasons during which this child of rugby will fight for maintenance.

It builds character.

The Agen experience was very beneficial to me.

It was an ultra-rewarding adventure, because it's never easy to play the maintenance

"confides the player to

Actu Rugby

in 2020. An experience at the SUA which allowed him to take on another status when he returned to Lyon in 22 years old.


The fact of having succeeded in this loan to Agen and of having proved by playing almost every weekend, I returned to LOU with a different status.

Besides, if my status hadn't changed, I don't think the Lyon staff would have wanted to keep me.


Only, in Lyon, Léo Berdeu will experience a difficult first season.

Eight starts in the Top 14, 18 match sheets in total.

The opener concedes he hesitated to leave his club.

Free of any contract in June 2021, he finally extends the adventure in the Rhône after putting things straight with his trainer Pierre Mignoni.

Following the retirement of Jonathan Wisniewski, Léo Berdeu begins his fourth season in Lyon in the shoes of the leader.

A hinge from hell

The fly half must also assume the responsibility of goalscoring.

A "new" role that he will take very seriously.

I will take my responsibilities for this defeat,

confides the player after the 23-18 loss against Stade Français on October 23 during the J8 of the Top 14.

The role of a scorer is very important in this kind of match: I miss five points, Lima three.

Eight points against a team like that, it does not forgive.

We learn from this kind of meeting, it's up to me to raise my head and move on.


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The young lion will raise his head two weeks later against Castres: a try, which he transforms himself, and six penalties.

He scored 25 of his team's 30 points.

Little by little, Léo Berdeu continues to gain momentum and continues to deliver high-flying performances, like against Racing on January 2nd.

The opener plants a double, his fourth and fifth tries of the season, and passes 17 points on foot.

Personally, I played a good game, but I missed four points on foot and that could have cost us the victory.

My job is to materialize the work of the big guys, which brings us penalties.

My performance comes after

”, assures the player after this narrow 37-35 victory against the players of Laurent Travers.

We are a year apart, we get along very well in everyday life, we are often together.

This complicity is necessarily felt and the coach relies on it.

We find each other naturally, we know each other perfectly.

Léo Berdeu, in L'Équipe.

Léo Berdeu, who hasn't scored a single try since this double against the Ile-de-France, however, continues to score points.

217 points scored against goal out of 20 games in total in the Top 14, best scorer in the championship.

He also has one of the best point-to-game ratios.

Add to that five tries in total.

The LOU number 10 is also the best scorer in the championship with his 242 past points.

It must be said that next to him is the best try scorer in the championship.

Many Top 14 teams have a Franco-French hinge, sometimes with two internationals (Toulouse, UBB, Toulon).

This is also the case in Lyon since Baptiste Couilloud is the No. 1 scrum half this season in Lyon, he who has nine selections for the France team.

And this season, the Lyon n°9 is also in sparkling form.

13 tries in total, including ten in the Top 14. One crashes, the other scores.

A complementary duo and a complicity that has evolved over the weeks.

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Holder only ten times in the league, because often called in the enlarged group of the XV of France, Baptiste Couilloud was eight times in the company of Léo Berdeu.

The two inseparable sometimes start together on the bench as well.

We had to have thirteen soldiers and two bosses at the hinge who manage the tempo of the match and the occupation.

They did it really well.

They made almost no mistakes.

When the forwards do the job and they also do it at the hinge, rugby is simpler

, "recognizes the third line Dylan Cretin, after the 31-17 victory in Brive on April 23, in remarks relayed by the

Olympic noon


They are strategic leaders

” contemplated Pierre Mignoni.

Only missing the Blues

I have never hidden it, the XV of France remains a goal,

proudly advocated Léo Berdeu at

Actu Rugby

from November 2020.

Since my last season in Agen, the staff of the XV of France, starting with the coach Fabien Galthié, follows me closely, so that motivates a lot.

“This year, the Lyon opener tasted selection A, he who went through all the young teams.

Or rather to the enlarged group of the XV of France.

Léo Berdeu is called up three times in the group of 42 during the first three matches of the 6 Nations Tournament.

He will always be one of the 14 players released by the staff, without ever registering in a match sheet.

Léo Berdeu scored 25 points against Castres on November 6, a league record.

Record which he himself improved with 27 points against Racing.


This rewards him for his progress, for his start to the season with the club,

recognizes Pierre Mignoni at the microphone of

Canal +

on January 18, the day of the announcement of the first list of Fabien Galthié


It's a winning comeback for him.

He is still improving, because he is still a young player.

He has many qualities.

He's a hard worker and a big competitor.

He does not hesitate to question himself.

If he is there, it is thanks to him.


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Léo Berdeu could find the XV of France this summer.

Fabien Galthié's selection will travel to Japan for two friendly matches on July 2 and 9.

Like last year, the coach will have to do without the Top 14 finalists, forcing him to expand his group even further.

But before that, the opening half of LOU must focus on the end of the season with his club.

Lyon are fifth in the championship with two games remaining, but only have a one-point lead over Toulouse and La Rochelle.

Lyon could therefore miss the final stages of the Top 14 for the second year in a row.

This Saturday (1:30 p.m.), Lyon Olympique Universitaire hosts London Wasps at Matmut Atlantique in Gerland, with the aim of qualifying for the Challenge Cup final, for a European first in the club's history.

With, we hope, a Franco-French clash against Toulon in Marseille on May 27 in a special match for Léo Berdeu.

Source: lefigaro

All sports articles on 2022-05-13

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