After fulfilling his promise to allow Aviron Bayonnais to return to the elite, Yannick Bru decided to take a step back before heading out for a new experience abroad. In August, the former whore will go to Durban to train the Sharks.
First of all, how are you doing since the French title with Bayonne?
Honestly, it goes pretty well! There have been many moments of sharing, celebration and friendship with the entire squad and players. We still liked it a lot and now I am in a period of rest that I had wanted because it is true that turning around a bit, I have been training non-stop for fourteen years and I felt a lot of need to breathe and regenerate before starting another adventure.
What do you remember about these four seasons in the land of Bayonne?
It was a great adventure at a developing club with many young players trained at the club. I was immersed in a different challenge than I had known until now and learned a lot. We had a lot of joys, some sadness too, but hey, that’s part of the experience. Either way, I draw a lot of positive aspects from it.
Was it important for you to return the club to the Top 14?
First, it was the pact we had made with the team and the entire staff. We were clear that in the last month of the previous season we made a big mistake that was a nightmare, as we lived the result we know despite the ten victories and the forty-six points in the time trial. It was a violent trauma. Emotionally speaking, this has been one of my biggest pains as a coach. Nothing will erase what we went through, that’s for sure, but it was a way to repair putting the club directly in the Top 14. So we’re relieved to have repaired it.
How was your departure?
Four years in a thriving club in which we have often managed in training conditions far below those I have known so far, inevitably wears off. I put a lot of passion into this adventure and, inevitably, when you put so much heart into it, small disagreements are created and I think it was time for us to separate by mutual agreement.
Grégory Patat will take the reins of Rowing Bayonnais, did you give him any advice before leaving?
We have tried to ensure that the interests of the Rowing are always preserved. We communicated a lot over the phone and we also met. We talked about the squad and a lot of young players on the squad. I went as far as I could to share as much information as possible with him to save time.
You will now have a complete change of scenery integrating the staff of the Durban Sharks, why did you make that decision?
It is a well thought out choice. I have had a good relationship with the management of the Sharks and their staff for many years. Over the last four years, we have created player exchanges. In my career, I had the opportunity to be an assistant coach at the Stade Toulousain, then I was involved with the French national team, which was a more painful but very formative challenge and I finally spent four years in Bayonne as well. that I had the feeling I had lived it all here. I wanted to regenerate, train and progress. I had long wanted to live an experience abroad, so this proposal interested me.
Did you hesitate to accept this proposal?
Let’s just say the coach said yes right away, the father thought a bit. We have found a logistics organization as a consultant that gives me a lot of freedom and also the Sharks club. I think I have a lot to learn by going to their country and I also hope, modestly, to bring them my experience of French rugby. The idea is to have a great year. For administrative reasons, my stays in South Africa will not exceed three consecutive months, but in the end I am fine as it corresponds to my desire to have a year of oxygenation. I also have other projects that I have wanted to study for a long time, so this will also allow me to have time for this.
What are these projects?
I am working on a project on data organization as decision making tools. It is a project that is close to my heart because it is true that the role of coach has changed a lot and we need to use technology more and more, but above all we need to use it well. I have a second project on virtual reality. All of this requires time and investment, but I believe that with all of these technologies, training methods will evolve and you need to be prepared for that.
To return to your new adventure with the Sharks, aren’t you a little anxious at the dawn of this outing?
Frankly not because it’s true that it’s a club and a city I know. I have been there several times. I am a friend of Eduard Coetzee, the CEO (Editor’s note from the CEO) of the Sharks who has also played in Bayonne and Biarritz and is a very good person. I also know a few staff members. I know there is a family spirit and a work ethic that will go well for me there. So I’m not afraid of this outing, it’s more the logistical and family part that is complex.
Looks like you already know this team and this city?
My first contacts with the Sharks go back a long time when Frédéric Michalak went to play there, I went to visit him. In 2017 we returned to this city with the French team during a deadly tour against the Springboks and that was when I was able to talk to Eduard Coetzee about Sharks management. Then, just before taking on the project in Bayonne, in an exchange program I went to spend a week with them. They had welcomed me with open arms.
What do you like about this club?
I am still discovering South African rugby but they are real people, a club with history, traditions and some prestige. There is a real culture of work and respect. Coach friends often tell me that generations change and that you have to adapt because it’s getting harder and harder, but there you get the impression that there is an education among young players and a respect for the hierarchy. This rugby is world champion with specific game guidelines, but am I also going to understand how these guys, with a lot of simplicity and authenticity, are world champions? I think I really have a lot to learn.
Are you looking forward to this new challenge?
Yes, I can’t wait, but it’s true that I appreciate that moment of rest I needed. In recent years I have really felt like I am in a washing machine. Honestly, by the end of June I wouldn’t have had the energy to go back. At the end of the season I was calm but also exhausted, so I appreciate that break. I will also like to leave in mid-August because I still don’t like to stay too long doing nothing.
What do you think of the integration of South African teams in the European Cup?
Inevitably it will no longer be the European Cup as we know it, but it may be the start of a new competition. Today we realize that the European Cup offers a lot of Franco-French duels apart from Leinster and Exeter and I think that if this competition wants to maintain its appeal it has to open up to other rugby territories where there is a lot of passion. Rugby in South Africa is a religion. It’s everywhere in schools. At the sporting level, it is clear that this is an opportunity to make this competition more attractive. The Sharks are eager to perform in Europe, no doubt.
What will be your exact role within the Sharks staff?
I had to integrate with an already prepared staff so it is true that I was appointed to take care of the rucks. He had a need for collisions and confrontations in approaching this gaming sector at the European level. Personally, I am interested in diving back into something more concrete, but I think our exchanges will go beyond this framework and I think I would also have other missions, especially in the study of European teams.
What are your goals with this team?
Obviously winning. Today the Sharks are in a process of acting and want to weigh in on the competitions they play. They come out of a complicated season in which they have not achieved their goals. What I hope is to win, to participate in a rich human adventure, to progress as a coach, and to return as best I can the trust they have placed in me. This challenge will be tough because there are many internationals on this team and the model is such that the Springboks spend six months with the national team, so it is true that it is an additional difficulty to succeed in the league.
Are you from Gers, have you ever considered going back to your roots later in your career?
I started rugby in the future Massylvain, today my sister is still president of this club. I think when I finish the hustle and bustle of professional rugby it would make sense to go back to my village or even Auch to lend a hand to these simple people who keep rugby on the field alive. I admit that at the moment I hadn’t really thought about it, but it’s true that going back to this rugby everything it has given me might make sense.