Former France hooker Benjamin Kayser is the latest player to take us on a journey through his career via the shirts he wore and accumulated, as he appears on this week’s Jersey Tales.

Kayser first picked up a rugby ball while living in Hong Kong and went on to play professionally for Stade Français, Leicester Tigers, Castres and Clermont. He made his France debut in 2008, meanwhile, and represented Les Bleus at Rugby World Cup 2015.

But, it is arguably his time in England with Leicester that he remembers most fondly.

Kayser spent two years at Welford Road between 2007-09, helping the Tigers lift the English Premiership title on the pitch and finding love off it.

“Leicester Tigers was the best move I ever made,” he said. 

“[It was] a real step up, I thought I was drafted in the NBA, you know. That was sort of my way of seeing it and I adored it, met my wife there. 

“I basically met her in Leicester on a night out. Then I left her tickets for the next year at Welford Road stadium and I would get a text, you know, every time, ‘congratulations you won’ or ‘sorry you lost’, you know stuff like that. 

“And, then a year down the line she's at an after-match [function] and she's like, ‘Oh, Welford Road’s so beautiful, it's my first time here’.

“I turned around, ‘What do you mean it's your first time here?’ and basically she'd been giving her tickets to her flatmates for the last year, never even came to the game, does not like rugby particularly, which gives us a good balance!”

Kayser has managed to keep hold of a number of important jerseys from his career, including the one in which he started his first Six Nations match, against England at Twickenham in 2013.

“There's my father-in-law and my dad sitting in Twickenham stadium next to each other during the anthems, so it was a super, super special moment for me,” he said.

The hooker went on to win Top 14 and European Challenge Cup titles with Clermont before being advised to retire on medical grounds in 2019.

Kayser’s final act on a rugby pitch was to hoist the Challenge Cup trophy high above his head at St James’ Park in Newcastle two years ago.

“It was a fitting end to my career,” he said. “I could have done a lot more things, yes, but I have zero regrets.”

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