Luke Price is the Welsh-speaking farmer’s son from Three Crosses in Swansea who made the bold decision to head for France to play his rugby.
A year on, the former Wales U20s fly-half is looking for a new club after exiting Valence Romans Drome Rugby, a team based in south-east France.
Has he, to adapt a line or two from Paul Simon, been sitting in a railway station with a ticket for his destination wishing he was homeward bound? Let him tell the story.
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“I’m just seeing if there’s a rugby opportunity out there to go with my ambitions. My agent is making calls, so we’ll see what comes of it,” he said from Namibia, where he is on honeymoon with new wife Rhian.
“I guess it’s fair to say I’d want to get back to a higher level. Coming home is one option. I still have ambitions in the game, to go much further as a player. I feel I still have plenty to offer.
“My ultimate goal is to find a way back to a higher level of rugby. For the time being, I hope it’s in France.”
Price hitched up with Valence Romans after parting of the ways with the Ospreys. He had been with his home region for seven years, learning his craft from him in the shadow of Dan Biggar initially and then battling with Sam Davies for the shirt after Biggar left for Northampton.
But a hip injury hit him off course in 2019, with an operation put back because of Covid. By the time he’d undergone surgery and returned, a new coaching regime was in place. And even though Price played well towards the end of the 2020-21 season, Gareth Anscombe’s impending return from injury meant the Ospreys had too many No. 10s.
At Valence Romans the fair-haired No. 10 chipped in with 172 points as the club finished third in the Nationale. But they missed out on promotion after coming unstuck in the playoffs. It meant Price, who signed a one-plus one contract when he headed for France, faced another campaign in the third tier of French rugby.
I decided it wasn’t for him.
“I just wasn’t sure I wanted to continue playing in the French third division,” he said. “A few months ago, there was also the point that I was not certain how my wife, who was then my girlfriend de ella when she came over, would settle in France. But she’s been brilliant and adapted really well.
“I had flagged it up to the club and told them how I felt on the rugby side. Had we won promotion it would have been different, but we lost in the playoff semi-final and so the call was made.
“Both my wife and I have immersed ourselves in the culture and have enjoyed the experience off the field. We’ve made friends and enjoyed being part of French life.
“But when the rugby didn’t align with our off-field situation, it was time to think about something else.”
Whatever happens, Price has no regrets about his call to head for France. “The experience has been everything I’d hoped for,” he said. “It’s a different world in terms of the pace and the way things are approached.
“A lot of the players are not local so there’s a big emphasis on encouraging people to get on with each other and get to know each other. Wives and girlfriends and players mix and have a drink after a game. My wife has made good friends and so have I.
“I’m not fluent in the language but I’ve picked up some French and can understand what other players say on the field.”
What has the standard been like? “It’s probably in line with the British and Irish Cup,” said Price.
“There are some good players but then you’ll come up against some teams who are not so good.
“Ironically, Valence found it hard against sides at the bottom of the division. They’d all have a point to prove and wouldn’t give an inch. When it came to top sides we tended to be really focused and played well, but we dropped too many points against the others. But it’s been an interesting league to play in.”
There is a famous and true story about an Australian who went out to play in France. On his debut, which was at home, there was a punch-up in which pretty much every member of his side piled in. What unity, thought the newcomer. The camaraderie afterwards couldn’t have been bettered. Glasses of red wine were raised amid much laughter and stories swapped.
The following week the same chap found himself involved in a dust-up again and looked around for the cavalry to arrive. They didn’t. All were heading the other way, shoulders and heads slumped, not overly interested in a confrontation on opposition territory.
How has Price found it? “Teams are still big on winning at home in France,” he said.
“It really means a lot to them. That said, I haven’t seen anything too indisciplined.
“The top six teams in the Nationale are professional and focused hugely on improving standards and getting the wins. You can’t get wins if you don’t have discipline, so the matches are largely played in good spirit.
“There’s a big focus on scrums and mauls. Those areas mean a lot to coaches, players and supporters out here.”
It will be interesting to see where Price resurfaces. The irony was before he departed the Ospreys he had played some fine rugby for them, with his performance by him against Glasgow Warriors in the spring of 2021 outstanding. TV commentators talked up his game-control and ability to make the right calls.
He is right, then, to still have ambitions. But right now it’s over to his agent to sort him out a new team to play for.
It shouldn’t be a difficult ask.