Mister Africa – After a successful career as a swimmer, Jean-Luc Barthès stepped out of the swimming the pool and started a new adventure. The great adventure of rugby ! Curious to discover the universe of a team sport, he tried his luck in his home town : Castres, in the South of France. The then young and competitor man, quickly discovered a passion for this sport which gave him the freedom to grow on a personal level as well as as a team player. He is spotted by the Castres Olympique at the end of 1970s and played for some time alongside international players. Even today, his team-mates remember how “not technical but incredibly quick he was. He was so fast he could run 100m in about ten seconds “. Later, he will leave the South and its cicadas and for professional reasons, will move to the North of France. He will then play in Arras, and from this city and its team he will keep some of the most beautiful memories of his life.
After many years, Jean-Luc’s career as a rugby player came to an end however his passion for the oval ball was too strong to quit completely. He went on working for almost 10 years for the French Federation of Rugby, before turning to international rugby. In 2002, he wass hired at the IRB, today known as World Rugby. This new job opened him the doors of Africa, a place always dear to his heart. After 3 years spent on the Reunion Island, he decided to relocate his family to a new country : Morocco. From there he will exercise his new job for over 5 years before returning to France. For fourteen years Jean-Luc will be the Rugby Services Manager of Africa and will work actively on the development of rugby in the big as in the small nations of the continent.
As invested of a mission, he will stride accross more or less all the countries of Africa. Honest, straight-forward and passionate, he never gave way to approximation and fought hard to make a model of exemplary of this continent. Today, Africa is one of the top 3 most active regions in the world of rugby. Always ready to help somebody out, we have lost count of the number of people whose lifes were changed by Jean-Luc. If he had understood well something, it is that we are stronger as a team than on our own. He gave a lot to Africa and Africa rewarded him for it.
Jean-Luc suddenly left us on February 10th, 2016 at the age of 56, surrounded by his family, his wife Janick and his three daughters Delphine Lola and Lou. Rugby Africa will never forget everything he has done and will fight to keep his legacy alive and strong. His vision will always be respected, his work will never disappear. Africa loses a big sir, its mister Africa !
May he rest in peace.