Rugby Union: Trinh-Duc brings Asian spice to French league

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Vietnamese blood in his veins and a French feel for the game in his heart, Trinh-Duc makes his mark at Montpellier

   MONTPELLIER, France, January 15, 2008  - There's a piece of Asia spicing
up France's rugby championship as Francois Trinh-Duc, with Vietnamese blood in
his veins and a French feel for the game in his heart, makes his mark at
   The French-born 21-year-old fly-half, whose paternal grandfather was from
Vietnam, is one of a batch of young players at the club who has coaches
   Trinh-Duc grabbed the limelight on his second start for the Top 14 side
last January when he ran riot against Bayonne scoring a total of 17 points
(one try, three conversions, one penalty and a drop goal) in a 39-17 triumph.
   That stunning performance earned him a starting place for six of the team's
final seven games last season.
   "It felt like I was playing in the youth team," said Trinh-Duc, who played
alongside 22-year-old scrum-half Julien Tomas, and back row forwards Louis
Picamoles and Fulgence Ouedraogo, both 21.
   "Their presence really helped me integrate (into the side), even though it
was a tense time."
   Trinh-Duc, already an under-19 and under-21 international, marched into
this season full of confidence and put in a match-winning performance on the
opening day against Perpignan, a 19-12 win.
   "Montpellier won because of him," said Perpignan coach Jacques Brunel.
   "Not only did he brush off four defenders for a try, he scored a drop goal
from 40 metres from a tight angle. Only one player in 30 could have made that
that kick."
   With quick hands, confident kicking and powerful runs, Trinh-Duc, who is
still studying for a sports diploma, has his eyes on breaking into new
national coach Marc Lievremont's thoughts.
   However, there are major heavyweight talents ahead of him in the queue such
as Frederic Michalak, Lionel Beauxis and David Skrela.
   Trinh-Duc, who is a product of Montpellier's youth system and started
playing when he was just four, was voted November's league player of the month
and is currently his club's top scorer.
   But he is not getting carried away, happy to ensure that Montpellier don't
slip away from their comfortable mid-table place in the French Top 14
   "I want to have a successful season with Montpellier," he said.
   "I don't want to go too quickly and burn my wings."

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