William Iraguha tells Rugby World of his voyage to France sevens
Sevens is a game all about joy. And few deserve that more than the Iraguhas.
The France sevens star William cannot tell you where he spent some of his infancy – was it briefly into Rwanda or staying in Kenya, where he was born? – but he and his family have seen plenty of the world. The bad and the brilliant sides.
“I am Rwandese, as my mother and father were both born there,” Iraguha begins. “My older brother was born in 1994 and that was like a month before the genocide. So my parents fled the country… Three years after that my mother was in Kenya, due to all the circumstances, and that’s where I was born. Then I think my mother went back to Rwanda for a year, and my father and brother went to South Africa, Cape Town.”
This is the grey area but what Iraguha knows for sure is that the family would spend years shifting in pairs, pooling resources and then reuniting. Thankful for avoiding horrors in their homeland amidst civil war, they have forged ahead, next through South Africa, where William would eventually learn rugby.
“But that whole time there, we had refugee status,” he says. “It’s not the easiest of lives to have refugee status in the country, it got a bit hectic. So my mother left for France in 2007. She sorted things out and planned for all of us to come over to France with her.”
And here comes the cruellest twist. Burned into Iraguha’s memory are the dates. The rest of the family were due to go to France on 24 November 2010. But on the 22nd, William’s older brother was in a catastrophic car crash. He was left a tetraplegic after the accident. And so, with funds and circumstances prohibitive, William and his mother split off from father and brother once again, heading for France and the new life.
Some new heroes emerge here, with Iraguha passionately adding: “I think the Matt Hampson Foundation is truly amazing.”
The group helped fund and make possible a family reunion, in France six months later. Again, it is a memorable day for Iraguha.
He explains: “They wanted it to be a surprise. My mother told me she was going on a small trip, so I went to the airport expecting to say goodbye. When I saw her at the airport she was in tears, and then I saw behind her that my father and brother were there. It was crazy. The family were in tears. It was nice.”
And here he is now, in the mixer with France, the home that embraced this family from Rwanda and nurtured his rugby talents. In a side that may – whisper it – finally be realising their potential on the Sevens World Series.
“We must aim for the top-three spot,” says Iraguha. It’s about time they click. With an Olympic Games in Paris coming up, the side want to be flying by then.
“Look out for us,” Iraguha adds. And while it’s nice that eight different teams have competed in finals so far this sevens season, Iraguha has travelled enough to happen onto a path paved with gold.
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