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The career ofÀlex Tulou crossed France from east to west. Through Bourgoin, Montpellier, Castres, Lyon i Daxthe old third center line in 50 attempts Top 14 rendit a Rugby news like never before. He arrived in a fun way at Bourgoin, impressed Joshua Tuisova and came out of Montpellier after a bad relationship with Jack White (former Springbok coach), the American Samoa native opens the memory box. It’s worth the detour.
News: Alex, your career in New Zealand is totally atypical and you were not destined to be a rugby player …
Alex Tulou: Indeed. I joined the police at 18 years old. I didn’t want to be a rugby player, I wanted to be a profiler. While at the police academy, I was selected for Hurricane Province, Wellington Lions. This is where I started high level rugby. I studied psychology and criminology. However, my dream was to be a profiler. But I finally chose the career of a rugby player. I spent two years in Wellington and then moved to Taranaki. I played with the New Zealand team at the age of 7, I was under contract with the NZRU, the federation to be selected with the All Blacks. Then I made a financial decision. I come from a middle class family and that’s why I decided to come to France.
Before coming to Bourgoin, you were contacted by other French clubs. It’s right?
A: Yes. At first, it was Montauban. I signed there in 2009, and when I got there they went down. I watched the last Top 14 match between Montauban and Baiona (22-8 win). Thanks to this match, Montauban should stay in the Top 14. We were happy. The next day, the club announced that it was relegating to Federal 1 because it no longer had the financial means. I looked for another club after that. I spent a week with the Paloise Section, at Pro D2, and then with Brive where I did all the testing. But in the end, I was asked if I could play center to replace Riki Flutey. So I said no, I was a little offended (laughs). It was not my post.
How did you get to Bourgoin?
A: A friend of mine called me right after the Brive episode. He played Bourgoin. Her name is Tone Kopelaini (whore). He played in Wellington with me. He said to me, “Yeah, come to my club, it’s okay, we’re having fun, it’s a great club, we’re having fun.” Except I didn’t notice the time he called me. I didn’t realize he called me at 11:30 pm and he was drunk … When I went there, I didn’t see him right away, but I made the decision to play Bourgoin and therefore stay. in the Top 14. So I signed up and when I saw him he said to me, “Oh sorry, we actually lost every game and I think we’ll go down … I was drunk when I told you” (Laughs). But, too late, he had signed. Still, I saw that it was a great club with a lot of very good players, going through the France national team. I had a good time for four months.
You didn’t finish the season with Bourgoin in 2011 because you signed with Montpellier, a club where you stayed for five years …
A: After a Bourgoin-Montpellier match when I was playing for CSBJ, Fabien Galthié (then MHR coach) came to see me and said, “Come with me to Montpellier!”. This is where I made my decision. Two days later, I was in Montpellier, it was fast. I was there for five years. He had signed three more years, but with Jake White it was tricky. When he arrived, I had to leave. I didn’t leave on my own. I had a great time and had an amazing time.
So your relationship with Montpellier ended badly. That’s when Castres comes looking for you.
A: Christophe Urios, Frédéric Charrier, and Joe El Abd, who had just taken the reins of Castres, came to fetch me from Montpellier. We talked and they wanted me to come. I signed for five years and we were champions in 2018. I also had to stay there a little longer, but I decided to leave because I had complications.
In Lyon, I apologized to the players. I wasn’t depressed, but I had a mental block …
Tell us about your visit to Lyon.
A: I went to Lyon where Pierre Mignoni called me. I played there for a year. Except that I started to lose a little flame … Mentally I wasn’t very well, I didn’t feel like leaving Castres at the base. When I was in Lyon, I didn’t really go back to my best level, because it wasn’t in my head. I apologized to the players because I wanted to do more and could have done it. Sometimes, even at this level, we go through a bad period. I don’t look for excuses, but I wasn’t at the level of Lyon. I was disappointed. This club all to succeed, but psychologically it was not there. I wasn’t depressed, but I really had a mental block. I left the club and went to Dax, to National, to pass my coaching diploma and to be a player-coach the first season.
Have you ever been impressed by a particular player?
A: I have never seen a player like Joshua Tuisova. I played with him and against. He and I had a “gentleman agreement” (a kind of moral contract between men). That is, when you play against good friends, you don’t go 100%. This is often the case among islanders. It is our culture. I was so impressed … It is a beast, a force of nature. There are many guys who have this profile on the islands, but someone like him, had never seen it. It is concrete! You have to know that he is a boy who does not speak, who is very discreet. When he speaks to you, he loves you. We talked a lot at the end.
In training with the Hurricanes, I was crushing the next one, but I was slowly taking it with Victor Vito. One day, the coach called us in his office!
Throughout your career, what has been your best moment?
A: I think that was when I scored three tries against Jake White’s Montpellier in 2015 with Castres. Because ? Because with my wife, we waited a long time to have a child but we couldn’t. We changed doctors several times and then found a good gynecologist in Montpellier who followed us and helped us. On the day of the match, in the morning, I was at a meeting of the bank, and he called me: “How good we did it! “I say to myself, but what is he talking about? And he told me that my wife, Kyla, was pregnant. There, I didn’t even go back to the meeting (Laughs). I took the car and went home. .I called my wife, we were very excited.Then in the afternoon I came back with the group.We had to play in the evening at 9pm.I had a lot of excitement and that motivated me even more.
Can you tell us the funniest anecdote of your career?
A: The anecdote when I got to Bourgoin was not bad! (River). There is another. With Víctor Vito we are very good friends. At the Hurricanes we played together, but we didn’t get too involved in training … And that, the then coach Jamie Joseph had noticed! He had seen that he was crushing the boy next to him, but when Victor was in front, he was doing it slowly and vice versa. After training, the coach called us in his office and said, “Do you take me for a fool? Crush the others, but when he’s among you, suffer or pretend. Stop doing that, you’re not friends. in the countryside!” So we avoided each other, when he was going on one side, I went on the other (River). With Ma’a Nonu the same, he put his finger in my nose, and I took off his dreadlocks! We often did stupid …
How would you describe your relationship with France?
A: France has become my home. When I’m in New Zealand, I say I’m going home. And when I say that, I’m talking about France, not the other way around! Here, we are really at home. I grew up here. I reached 22 and now I have 35 … Finally, I have two chances to feel like world champion: whether New Zealand wins or the French team! (River)
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