Still in athletics, Mathieu Bastareaud assures him: “If I come back, it’s not to be a clown”

The third line, now 33, is struggling to regain all his feelings for, why not, live one last year at the RCT.

He gets rid of the Cers de Saint-Raphaël where he was part of his rehabilitation.

Almost 8 months after the injury, where are you in your recovery program?

There is still a lot of work to be done, but I think it was a good thing to go through the Cers (European Center for Sports Rehabilitation). It allowed me to pull off some apprehensions. I put myself in a little more danger in certain moves that I was no longer used to doing. Inevitably, after what I had, I was very protective. Putting myself in a little more danger, I saw that once I overcame the psychological barrier I could do it. It gave me confidence. Although he knew the Cers team, he also strengthened our ties. We were able to work for two weeks. This allowed me to ask myself fewer questions, reflect less. If they make me do an exercise or a move it’s because they think I’m capable of it. If they have confidence, it is also up to me to have confidence in myself.

You also knew the Cers from your previous injury. Did it save you time too?

There, it was different. The previous time it was my first rehab (in December 2020 due to a similar injury to my left knee) I had managed it with the club. It had been a little tricky. This time I come without pressure. I gave my goals, which I wanted to work on. They were receptive and we got on with it. The first day we tried everything to see where it was and the next day we started working and each time we managed to pass a level. Before arriving in Cers, what was your program? The first part of the rehabilitation was done in Lyon, with the club’s physiotherapist and a physical preparation. When the season ended, I returned to Toulon with my family. I went to a center not far from my home: Aquaphysiosport, with Nicolas Petitbois. I knew him, because at that time we were doing cryotherapy with Toulon. I also worked with Thomas Sonetti, who plays at the RCHCC, who is also a fitness trainer. We worked well, and all of that allowed me to get ready for Cers.

On a moral level, how did you experience this injury, as rare as it is significant?

It was a big injury, yes. It was tough at first. The first three weeks, let’s say, when you go in a wheelchair, you have your head down … It’s true that you feel the blow, especially because you were returning from an injury. But I was in the center of the Pomponiana (functional rehabilitation center in Hyères), it allowed me to put things in perspective to the fullest. Beside me, there were amputees, burn victims, I also met children. When I saw it all, I said to myself, “You’re lucky to be able to walk again. Some will never be able to do it. Ask yourself the right questions: do you want to come back? If so, give yourself the means. Come back. ” And it happened naturally. When I saw that I was starting to plan things to be ready, in my head I had started the countdown without realizing it.

In your moments of doubt, have you thought about giving it all up?

When I get injured and they put me in the locker room, I ask to see my wife and son and I tell them, “Okay, I’m sick. I don’t want to go back to rehab. I don’t want any more.” Then, over time, I put myself to the test to see if I missed it. I stopped watching the matches, but well, since I’ve never seen too many, it didn’t change much. (Laughs) In the end, it started again. I surrounded myself with healthy people – my loved ones, my family, not negative people. I’m not blind, from the moment I got injured everyone announced the end of my career. Even I thought about it. But when I told myself I wanted to resume, I put myself in my bubble without looking at what could be said right or left. I wasn’t in revenge mode but I focused on my well-being.

What was the doctors’ speech?

The surgeon told me it would come from me, that it would take effort. He had no doubt, he told me, “I’ve fixed you, now it’s up to you to get physically prepared and do whatever it takes so that it doesn’t happen again.” So I had to be safe in my head and not be afraid because it’s the worst.

Was this double injury related to your previous operation?

I think. There is no mystery when you get hurt twice in the same place … For me, we missed some things from the first rehabilitation. Is it like that. It is now behind me. However, I see the difference with what I currently do. It has nothing to do. Then, since 2013, when I had a big dislocation during the European Cup final, I have always had tendinopathy. Not only that, I’m also a guy who constantly does io-io in terms of weight, this also plays a role. The years of rugby also matter. All this he did, which after a while, surrendered. To break your tendons, you have to go. Upon opening, the surgeon saw that it was already badly damaged. I hope it stays that way now.

How do you like the sequel?

Last week I was two days with the club for the resumption. We did some testing to see where it was and it’s pretty positive. With the doctor of the center but also the club we decided that today (last Friday) was my last day in Cers when I had to stay 4 weeks. Starting Monday, I continue my athleticism with the club.

Mathieu Bastareaud in rehabilitation in Cers. Photo by Philippe Arnassan.

These are positive signs in the face of recovery …

Okay, it shows that things are moving forward a bit, that the work we’ve been able to do so far has paid off. Although I only stayed two weeks instead of four at the Cers, I know that without her I would not have been able to digest the two days at the club. We went looking for things he no longer did, simple things for a top athlete, but which he had stopped doing because of my injury and my fears and psychological barriers. There I made a leap.

Next year, exactly, what will it be?

Already seeing how it goes at the club. The pace of a center is different from that of the club. There will be danger, we will set goals to go step by step. It is a great challenge. I am mentally prepared. Then, follow the physique, it’s almost the easiest.

Chance wanted this wound to fall on Mayol …

There was this reflection, saying to yourself, “Isn’t that a sign?” Some people around me, who are a little more spiritual than I am, think it was, that it showed me it was time to go home. I take a step back in that.

For now, there is also a new show of affection from this stage towards you …

At that point, I was shot a little because of the oxygen. But when my wife showed me the video, it touched me a lot.

There is a real link between you, this stadium, this club and you …

I was 8 years in the RCT, I gave myself 600%. I had a chance to win titles, to make people happy. It is true that there is a special bond with the fans. I am very happy to be able to return to Toulon, my home. Despite being in Lyon, my wife and son were here, it was not easy to live elsewhere. In the end, since I left, there has always been a connection to this city.

The announcement of your return has aroused a lot of excitement among the fans.

It warmed my heart. I left a little to everyone’s surprise, let’s say. There was a lot of disappointment. At the time, there were things I didn’t like about the club. I thought, at the time, that it was best to leave. Looking back, I think differently.

Was there a taste of unfinished?

Nothing unfinished, but I am someone who works in affection. At the time, certain things had hurt me a little, and from the moment I no longer felt wanted, I felt like I had nothing else to do. Now it’s back, it’s digested. We look forward.

It’s never easy to get home, even more so in Toulon with the fervor there can be around the club. How do you approach this?

At the moment, we are only talking about realism. I start from afar, there are so few people who believe me capable, that I have no pressure. I know myself, if it turns out I have to go back to the field, it’s not to be a clown. If I come back, it’s 200% to contribute what I can to the team and the club.

If you manage to get back, it will be on the third line. How do you handle this conversion?

It’s another rugby. It’s very interesting, it has forced me to be interested in the front game. I saw them doing it but that wasn’t what interested me the most. But in racing, you have to be as efficient as possible, it’s also a lot of repetition of tasks. It’s a lot more cardio than behind. At eight, in Lyon, Pierre gave me a lot of freedom. Not only was he with the forwards, he could also play behind. It really makes the connection. I liked it.

Beyond a return to the countryside, we also evoke a role with young people. And what about?

It was close to my heart. I also enrolled in the DE (state diploma), I will do it for two years in Aix-en-Provence. When we spoke to Pierre about a possible return, I presented to him my desire to work with young people. For him there was no problem. He was also well accepted by the people of the association. There, everyone is still on holiday, but once I get back to the club we will put things a little more, but it is something that is very close to me.

Have you had this desire for a long time?

It happened slowly. I often have my Massy friends to do tours with the training center players, I like to be on the broadcast, sharing. Crabos youngsters are still eager to learn. They’re not in the washing machine yet, when they want to go too fast. But I know myself, I don’t see myself doing this as a professional. Then I say that now …

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