Uini Atonio’s strange request to French President moments before Top 14 final
Being the enterprising chap he is, La Rochelle and France tighthead Uini Atonio saw the ceremonial shaking of hands with French President Emmanuel Macron before the Top 14 final on Saturday at the Stade de France as the perfect opportunity to get some admin done.
With the clash against Toulouse just seconds away, the 145kg prop chose not to simply smile politely at the President as he met the players, rather he demanded that he accelerated his passport. These were clearly the desperate pleas of a man who has a holiday abroad coming up and needs a new passport. Most other people who find themselves in that position are not gifted the opportunity to ask the President directly.
For some reason, Atonio must have thought that a bit of gentle persuasion in person might do the trick rather than a strongly worded email. It’s funny, but a lot of people standing at 1.96 metres and weighing 145kg tend to adopt the same course of action.
Now Rugby Onslaught do not know the ins and outs of French politics and administration, but it is unlikely that the President is sat at his desk dealing with every passport application himself, but if there is anyone who can pull some strings for Atonio it is probably Macron, so it was always worth a shot.
Fortunately for the prop, his passport is not going to be necessary over the coming months as the World Cup in September is on home soil. But there is one away warm-up game for Les Bleus, against Scotland in Edinburgh on August 5. So Atonio was basically giving the President a month and a half to get his passport sorted.
Meanwhile, Atonio has been selected in Fabien Galthie’s 42-man France squad for the first stage of World Cup preparations that will begin in July in Monaco. Luckily, Atonio won’t need his passport for that.
Take a look at their meeting:
— TOP 14 Rugby (@top14rugby) June 20, 2023