Clarence Bienes is a talented young player who has developed through the Academy pathway at Bègles Bordeaux. He decided to engage with Paepiro to discover new horizons and continue to gain some experience in a new country: the United States. Today we are lucky enough to be able to speak with him, to understand his goals and what he hopes to achieve in the American college Rugby scene.
You have had atypical journey since you played rugby in XV’s, but also at 7’s, where you became a French champion. How did find this path of playing both 7s and the XV helped your development?
Easily, I started 7’s very early in my region, from under 13 category. It was my first year in
Bordeaux, we were lucky to have a coach specializing in 7’s who still coaches national teams today.
7’s allowed me to progress to XV. Especially on the physical plane with the repetition of high intensity efforts, but also at the level of ball handling and communication. Because communication is really essential in 7 as in XV. This philosophy of 7’s to send a lot of game also corresponds to the Bordeaux project.
Which position do you prefer and where do you see yourself playing positionally at Lindenwood University?
I have more landmarks and therefore more facilities at the backrow, but I can also play center or winger. I wouldn’t be a problem to play at those two posts. I am quite open and 7’s allowed me to have this versatility on several posts.
After playing in Bordeaux for the last 6 years, what motivated you to try rugby in an American college?
This choice comes from a long reflection, I already wanted to go abroad after my last year Crabos, I wanted to go to New Zealand, see South Africa. Then I got a three-year contract with UBB. So I stayed 3 years in Espoirs in Bordeaux, and I was able to finish my Bachelor in International Business. During the first confinement, I told my agent that I wanted to go abroad, it was my last year of contract, but he advised me to stay in France for another 2, 3 years. Then I received a call from Justin (Fitzpatrick) and Jean François (Auriffeille) who introduced me to the Paepiro project, I immediately hooked up and now I have the chance to go play in the United States and join a university.
You have already visited the United States before, what did you like most? What are the main differences between France and the USA?
Yes, I have been there regularly, four or five times, in San Diego, Chicago and New York. There is a big change in lifestyle. In the United States, people are always on the move, it seemed to me that
people, the sellers of the shops are more welcoming. But I still love France, it’s still my country. I think I was influenced by my mother who was an au pair in the United States, going to America has
always been one of my goals. For me this is the country where everything is possible, everything is
What attracted you to choose Paepiro to help you play and study at an American University?
Paepiro came to explore near the training centers to offer young players at the end of the contract to try the American adventure. I was particularly interested, and I sent an email to the contact they had
left us. I quickly got in touch with Justin and Jean-François, who presented the project in a video
You have surely been interested in the functioning of American rugby, what do you think of the Draft system that allows the best graduating players from the US Colleges of the
university to play in MLR?
Yes I started to follow the American championship from the first professional season with the MLR.
Paepiro explained to me in detail the operation of this new draft system, with the eligibility criteria necessary to integrate it. Because it’s easier to become a pro in the United States by going through
the draft rather than trying to play directly for a MLR franchise. I really want to participate in next
draft, and I could integrate into the American culture more easily by going through the university.
What are your future goals in Rugby at University and beyond?
As I said I hope to integrate the next draft to evolve in one of the MLR franchises. Academically, I
already have a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and I am in the process of establishing
the subjects that I will study to graduate from Lindenwood University. Because the credit system (points required to validate an exam, a partial one), is not the same as the French system. I will work on this when I will be in United States, in the University.
What advice would you give to a young player who wanted to following in your footsteps and go to America to study at an US University and play Rugby ?
I would advise him to be patient, because it’s a long process to get into a university, but I think going abroad is very rewarding. You really have to want to leave, because for some people it’s difficult to
leave the family cocoon. In the end, I am convinced that this experience will be very rewarding humanly and sportily. It will be an opportunity to discover a new environment, learn and pass on knowledge beyond rugby.
Our interview is coming to the end, we will accompany our young Paepiro players throughout their season. We will follow them to share their best moments during their two projects: in rugby and in