Petit Chablis Very good We trust you Don’t hesitate if you prefer Sancerre, tell me and I’ll change it Well we’ll drink it, then we’ll see Cheers guys Cheers gentlemen Here it goes again! I’m happy to see you, how is your new life treating you? We quit rugby at the same time, in the end. I’ve always worked a bit on the side, launched a few companies it’s true that when I quit, I didn’t really have time to think about it I did my thing, with the wine wholesale house, my restaurants, Les Contrebandiers, the rugby camp in the summer, it’s true that when I stopped playing, I directly followed with this and you have things to do, it’s true that when you stop playing you’ve got time on your hands to structure your weeks, back then it was very precise, and today what I probably miss the most, and I wasn’t prepared for this, is the fact that when you play, every saturday, you’ve got a test. It allows you to… it sequences a lot your life, it puts it in order and it’s true that I don’t have this anymore, and you’re allowed to know where you stand every saturdays and when you don’t have it, you miss it, but I got to admit that Damien misses training, but I don’t! You’ve always Damien. To go back to rugby, I train youngsters, U10s in Biarritz, So I try to pass along what I’ve learned. It’s not always easy but I enjoy it, kids are fun. You feel the desire to do it higher in the future? No, not for now. I have difficult kids to handle, like little Harinordoquy. Little Auguste, my son, it’s not easy. And for now, in this beginning of season, because it’s quite recent, you don’t miss it? It’s the second season. Yeah, but it’s still fresh. On the rugby side, no, what I miss is human contact the locker room, mostly. In Biarritz, we’re lucky to be several former players, we have coffee together in the morning, we play jai alai. We walk into each other, it allows you to… But the field, no. We’re busy. I knew, when I stopped playing that when you play, you’re not at home often, but I know that I would be at home even less, and it’s the case because in the weekends I comment matches so I’m also gone every weekend. I keep a certain rhythm regarding this, and what is terrible is that, sometimes, I wonder if I stopped playing. I feel like, if tomorrow, you tell me « you’re going to play », I feel like I can actually play I don’t think I’d be able to but… Maybe it’s the fact to have taken time for you to have rested your body, you feel better. Yeah, and also because I’ve finished a little bit injured, when I quit, for three months, I didn’t have the impression I was going to die but my whole body hurt every morning you wake up, your shoulders hurt, I felt pain in places where I had no problems during my career. In the end, you come back to working out pretty quickly, I stopped for the summer and quickly I signed up for a gym to exert myself. I hit a bag, I need to unwind. Otherwise, I’m like a lion in a cage, and it was like this even when I played. So here it goes, I do some boxing, with Damien to keep the fighting spirit, we started jai alai. It’s a unique sport, I don’t box, I do a little crossfit, but very little. I do it to prevent my body from changing, but it changes quickly! Damien does it to stay in shape. Working out is to stay in shape! You haven’t been injured much during your career. What did you get? Broken arm, adductors surgery twice, The nose… Imanol saved my life! Early season camp, we go out rafting, no water, hell, really, and at some point I say « let’s jump on a rafting » and I tried to do something I never do, tackle and I went and a row went through and then, face in the water, knocked out. He wasn’t far, and he was looking, so he pulled me out of the water and they all arrived! I had the nose… I pulled him out, he had his floating life-jacket, I ran because I saw it was knocked out, he hate the row! Really bad timing ! I caught him like this, pulled him out like this, his face was… the nose up there, blood everywhere. Today, what are you looking for? Enjoy yourself, pick your last match, Yeah, a bit of all this. Do you have a goal? There is one I can think about… Beating the tries record, is it something that keeps you going? Yeah actually I had this goal : I wanted to keep playing rugby, to feel well, and this is done in the beginning of the year, I played the first three matches, I was benched after and it’s true that now, things are quite bad in Toulon, but I used this time to
work on my speed, explosivity, this kind of things. Things you don’t like! I got my sensations back, and now I’m frustrated because I want to play more, I changed my goals, I went from playing rugby and enjoy myself, now I want to play more because I feel very well now, the injuries are behind me, and the tries record, I think about it because I haven’t scored with Toulon yet and I want to score with Toulon, and it’s linked, obviously. I really want to score with Toulo. It’s the one thing missing, for me. When I go see matches even if I’m still playing, I don’t think we realized, how lucky we were. We had the impression of being part of a generation that won a lot, and all, and we didn’t realize how tough it was. It was actually tough, to win those matches. And we can see it now, that it’s tough, because things went worse slowly, and the french rugby’s organization I think it put the sport in difficulty. Well, we didn’t realize it… Yes and no. I think we were conscious that in 2010, we do a Grand Chelem, 2011 we reach the World Cup final, but we were conscious that it was only the tip of the iceberg. We could see that every year, it got harder and that it was harder for us to be good. Why do you think we got worse? It’s the rugby’s evolution. It’s only evolution? Or it is our federal strategies? I think it’s because of the formation, we’re probably, I think, we’re the country where there are the highest number of volunteers in rugby on the planet, and these volunteers they give 2000% but I don’t think they don’t have the keys, the tools, to train the kids properly, technically, I’m not saying we need to build world champions in chain, but it’s when you’re a kid that you learn how to pass the ball properly, not when you’re 30. Look at you, you still can’t figure how to pass the ball! It’s too late, I trained but it’s too late! It’s when you’re a kid that you learn the small things and I think we’re in a very individual path. I saw they closed Marcoussis, finally. To me Marcoussis… We played there with Damien, you did too, and we all played with guys who came back every weekend, but didn’t train with you during the week. All week, they do their own thing, with personal goals and stuff and in the weekend they ask you to play as a team, and in rugby, that just doesn’t work. And I think that, after our generation, we didn’t get a baton. there was a void, players that didn’t play much, We jumped a whole generation and we didn’t manage to pass the baton to the generation after us, who could have passed it to the next generation and there is a void, between our generation that won, that had a culture of winning, and today the young teams, they don’t win anymore. In the other countries, the young teams, they win… Even you, you were used to win in the young teams. It’s a culture of winning that you have. And today we lost it. In the team line-up for tomorrow, I don’t know what you think of it but you have a few layers that will come up Serin, Dupont, I think they’re guys that will bring something to this team. They’re the ones that play with their club. When we started, we all were starting with our club, and we were lucky, we travelled, when you go to New Zealand, the kids, they learn passing, passing, passing, very early. I finished my career in Pau, Conrad Smith, 35 yo, double world champion, after every training, he stays for 20 minutes and passes the ball. But in France, some players, they go do some body building, or they go home. It’s this approach we need to change. For number 9, isn’t it the competition that pushes them to be higher than the others? What made us grow was that every weekend we were playing against a potential competitor Today, it’s true for number 9s, but number 10s… It’s a little bit complicated. What makes you grow is the competition. When you know that… thank you Vincent When you know there is competition, you wake up earlier, you train harder, you know you’ve got to be better than your opponent when the weekend comes, and when there is not any competition, it’s completely different. In our careers, when there wasn’t any competion, we slackened, and what’s terrible is that when we started with the French team we had to be starting every matches with our clubs and we had to be the best every weekend, otherwise we weren’t picked. And that roster, it dried out slowly with the seasons passing, and also because there are a lot of foreigners. There are a lot of foreigners, I speaked recently with legends that told me « what is your problem in France? » « how is it possible to have as many foreigners playing in your league? » I was lucky to play in the first team when I was 20. Today, the same player that I was, he wouldn’t have a chance. It would have been way more complicated. It’s different. It’s impossible to compare, it’s a different generation. When you’re young you’ve got to play, you can train for hours, it’s not going to make you a good player. We started early, and when we started there was one foreigner only. I started rugby because we were playing in Toulon, you know how it is. You remember that match well! It marked you. I was 18, training with juniors, and they came to get me : « we need you » « why ?” Nicolas Brusque, lumbago, to go play Toulon, and the second fullback, he was working on the side, 8 hours a day. Today, this wouldn’t be possible. I remember Toulon, I was about to get on the pitch, and Thierry Louvet taps on my shoulder and says Thierry Louvet, the week before I watched him on TV « Hey kid, you’re not going to end this match » If I could have made a U-Turn and left… You see, it was easier for us to start. and it’s the same thing with the French team together, we’re the only ones who never lost against the Blacks. In 2002, You were playing too? A draw. Yes in 2002 In 2002 you played against Lomu. We’re here Vincent, everything’s gonna be alright. Who do you think will be champion this year ? If you had to bet. If I had to bet ? Today, it’s hard. La Rochelle La Rochelle will reach the final I think. Montpellier may be around too, they’re tough. If the final was tomorrow, Regarding the way they play, watch out for Bordeaux. They’re quite good, Bordeaux. I think they really want to play, it’s coherent. And they train a few very interesting youngsters. They’re lining up to play. Its not like ten years ago! Only four teams were able to be French champions. Today there are twice as many. You’ve got 8 teams that can win. It’s great, and at the same time The formula of the championship makes every point matter And to go back to youngsters coming up, When we started playing, we didn’t have defensive bonuses And all that, when you played away, You were losing by 40, at half-time, you were like ‘well, Let’s put the kids on, nothing to lose’, and when you were 20, 30 points up The guys were not even trying So you could also put the youngsters in. Today it’s harder, it’s a risk for the manager. Managers are saving their heads every week-end. Don’t you think we’re going back to this ? I see we were talking about Lyon, A lot of French player, youngsters, Yes because training is their business model. How many clubs today train players? In Toulon, there’s This kid Belleau who’s starting against the Blacks tonight, Then you have the 18 year old kid Who just played two games there’s Swann Rebadj, the second row who just arrive, In La Rochelle, there’s the boy Retiere who got hurt, In Bordeaux the small 18 year old 10, In Toulouse, Ramos, Aldegheri, And Baille, in Clermont, it’s Damien Penaud, I think we realize that youngsters, Bring what helped Us make it, spirit enthousiasm, maybe a little less experience, a little Less technical quality But managers see that sometimes it may be better to play An 18 year old than a guy That’s older but less motivated by a less important game, for him. I still think that we need to Reduce Top 14, we need to arrive to 12. Or even 10. Too many games, the season’s too long. There are injuries Maybe we’re obsessed, but there are injuries all the time Is it the number of games? I think in the game, there aren’t more injuries. Today, there’s more turnover, There are 23 players, even piliers Today, they can play 20 minutes, come out, come in And I think it’s one of the things that create injuries, Because players that come in, that are tired after one hour of play, and the guy that comes on has fresh legs, This is where accident happens There’s always so little preparation This year, at least, it was cool for the international players The guys had their six weeks, Without playing with the ball, without a tackle, without a contact Because you think that’s a good thing? Not touching a rugby ball for six weeks, training on your own? They played, but no friendly games. They did physical training alone, they had their programs and all this, They were forbidden to train with the others! In the formula, they need to take part in the strategic preparation And touch the ball a bit They’re behind the others after the preparation… It’s always the same thing, when do you want them to be ready? If you want them in shape the 1st of septembre, forget it. Technically, it’s for them to be in full shape in November, You know it, You can’t be in shape from the 1st of September to the 15th of June. It’s impossible. It’s too long. That’s where you see a difference too, you see the difference between today, and back when we were playing, we arrived on Sunday night, they’ve been preparing for fifteen days together, for a single match. It’s good that we put this kind of means, but now we need results, because before that we were complaining that there was no time, now there is time but if the results don’t come along, we’ll have to find another excuse I don’t think it’s an excuse, you’re right though, now that is the minimum, things need to keep evolving. Then we’ll see if we arrive to selection players, as they do in the other countries. About that, do you believe that at some point we need, in the young teams, to say, this player we think he has a big potential, and even if he doesn’t play for his club because it’s complicated, we take him by the hand take us with the national team, so he can work with us a little we make him grow and in 3, 4, 5 years, he’ll be the next big thing for the French team? We don’t do this at all. It’s happening right now with Romain Ntamack For now he hasn’t played with his club but he goes with the national team, apparently he has potential. At some point you’ve got to stabilize things. If you take the example of the hinge, Since Guy started I think, in 8 matches he played 7 different hinges as much hinges as matches and no stabilization in our time it was the same, we never manage to stabilize At some point shouldn’t we bet on guys and trust them. Look, I remember Marc’s era, It was François, it just changed for the semi final at the World Cup You see, you arrive at the more important moment in the world cup, and you change things the guys you trusted for four years, you don’t make them play. We never go to the end of things.