Next Gen: Robert Baloucoune

Charlie Talbot-Smith
05 December 2019

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After a spectacular breakout season last year, many were tipping Robert Baloucoune to become one of the standout stars of this league in the 2019/20 campaign.

That we are into December and are only now catching a glimpse of him is entirely down to a knee injury sustained over the summer.

One bench appearance against Munster at the start of this month – which gave him only nine minutes of pitch time – was all we had to go on so far this campaign.

That was until this weekend just gone, when the 22-year-old finally got his first start of the season and boy oh boy did he make up for lost time.

Standing 6ft 4in and with pace to burn, Baloucoune gave the Scarlets defence nightmares.

Heavily involved in both of the first two tries on the night, he finally got his own score to bring up the bonus point before the half hour mark.

And with Will Addison suspended and Rob Lyttle injured, chances are that the Eniskillen flyer is back in the first team to stay.

Indeed, after a man of the match showing on your first start back, it doesn’t really matter who else is vying for the shirt – Baloucoune deserves to keep it for now.

And he will be eyeing Europe next, a competition that he took to like a duck to water last season with tries in both of his first two starts against powerhouses Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers.

The journey back to the first team this season has been long and circuitous, in search of form and fitness he even turned out for Ballynahinch at Dublin University last month – running in a hat-trick!

The former Portora Royal School pupil is 22 now and his first breakthrough came relatively late with some star showings on the international sevens circuit.

He was part of the side in 2018 that won the Challenge Trophy and claimed a first-ever Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix title for Ireland.

Those performances caught Ulster’s eye and when his chance came to step up to the first time last year he grabbed it with both hands.

Overall he has five tries in just 11 Guinness PRO14 starts, and you would think there will be plenty more to come.

“It (the injury) has been quite tough,” he said last weekend after collecting his man of the match award in the win over Scarlets.

“It took a while getting back into training, even just running, but once I got back on the field doing what I do, I was enjoying it.

“It has been good to be back.”


Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!

General sale tickets are available from http://bit.ly/PRO14Cardiff2020 and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.

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