The cross-interview of Louis Picamoles and François Trinh-Duc: “We can leave calm”

The two internationals Louis Picamoles and François Trinh-Duc decided to hang the crampons this summer, after a last joint season in Bordeaux-Bègles, where they met twenty years after starting their joint journey at the training center of Montpellier. And they even ended their career with one last joint Marseille and an international match, in the United States, with the Barbarians. The opportunity to return to everything that unites them.

You spent the week together in Houston, with the Barbarians, to finish your career. How do you feel

Louis Picamoles: It’s nice because, the Baa-Baas, it’s a particular spirit. It’s pretty free and it’s instinctive rugby, which made us love this sport at its core. Doing it together on a tour abroad to end our career and share it with a nice group is a great way to turn the page.

François Trinh-Duc: For us, it is the ideal way out and the perfect transition. Being able to end up together, in a nice country and in a festive mood, is great. And then we still had an international match with the chance to share a Marseille match. I hadn’t imagined it before but, at least there, we know it’s our last. This allows us to finish cleanly before each return to Montpellier.

LP: For the Marseillaise, I hadn’t planned it either. Living the last is strong.

Has it made you relive something close to what you had experienced together as young people?

LP: Yes, it seems that our years at the training center, where it was mostly the environment and human relationships that mattered. We wanted to have a good time, have fun and then get together in rugby. The Baa-Baas spirit is that too. It is a good return, which brings back good memories.

Although you both left Montpellier in your career, you remained inseparable in everyone’s eyes, with Fulgence Ouedraogo. Did you hear it?

FT-D. : It is rather a pride to have started together and to have experienced fabulous things as young rugby players, to be able to transcribe it later to a higher level. Even at 35, we were still there playing a Top 14 semifinal. Yes, it’s strong. This bond, which you have in your head, exists between us in everyday life. So it’s understandable.

LP: Also, if Fufu (aka Ouedraogo, ed.) Had also been there, with us, it would have been quite fun. But what he is experiencing right now is not bad either. For his part, he also lived a week of madness in another context, also festive. We were able to see some photos and videos, it looked great.

For both of you, you even ended up together at a Union Bordeaux-Bègles club. Was it a common opportunity or will?

LP: We’ve been talking about having one last experience together for a long time. Initially, it was more focused on foreign countries. Our families get along well, with our children almost the same age, and we wanted to live an adventure in the United States, Australia or Japan. We talked about it, abroad it was more of a delusion. But with Covid, things have changed. Then the Bordeaux opportunity presented itself. It was a good look given that we had been talking about the idea for a few years. We would never have thought of doing it in the Top 14, or in a club other than Montpellier. It was great to find François again after so long, our paths had taken different paths, and it was a strong season humanly and sportingly.

FT-D. : Louis had arrived during the previous season at UBB and when I was in contact with the club he obviously asked me a lot. It happened naturally. And we ended up in a semifinal. It’s still a good streak, although I still have trouble sleeping after that missed part … When Louis got injured at the end of the season, it was tricky. I was afraid I would not choose its end. It’s already a social mourning but when you don’t pick it up, it’s even harder. There, this year we had decided to stop and finally we played the last game together. It was our destination and we can leave safely.

“In a conversation with François, we talked about the possibility of organizing a jubilee. We thought, “Why don’t we do it together? Fufu also announced that he was leaving. Come on, let’s do it all three! The wink is still pretty nice.”

Louis, were you afraid to end your career early with this knee injury?

LP: Yes, completely. At the time, he thought the season was over. For me, it was over … The diagnosis came quickly and when I was told there was hope, I clung to it. Everyone supported me and made sure I came back. I came back much faster than I had imagined. So I ended up on the field, in the final stage. Some time ago, it was inconceivable in my mind.

The fact that one stop decided that the other should also stop?

LP: We did not consult. I knew it was my last year, François knew it was his too. It was clear in our heads when we met in Bordeaux. Knowing we were stopping together was reassuring and even calming to me, in the sense that it didn’t happen alone. It’s a special moment, never obvious, so it was a comfort to be able to choose. This has allowed us to make the most of this season, to take things in stride, with a lot of desire. Even if the finals are always brutal in a finals game because you can’t anticipate when exactly it ends. The defeat in the half was hard to take on and this week with the Baa-Baas has also been good for that. But I don’t regret it. During the season we did everything we could do.

There have been tensions at UBB over the past few weeks and your younger partners have said you have played an important role as managers. Even Matthieu Jalibert said he wanted to play for you two …

FT-D. : It was only one season in Bordeaux and I saw it as a mission. I wanted to enjoy myself but also to transmit, especially to Matthieu. Being with Louis helped us do that. One front and one back, he did natural things. I didn’t tell the strikers how to put on the helmet (laughs). But I intervened behind, in the preparation of the matches. I was really in mission mode. In the difficult times, I kept my course and tried to be positive, have fun. They were my last cartridges and I didn’t want to waste them. I remember, when we started in Sabathé with Montpellier, that Gregor Townsend, Alessandro Stoica or Murphy Taele had accompanied me enormously. I had to do the same.

LP: When we were young, it is true that we were well accompanied. There was this mentality of transmission, of wanting to protect the youngest. We were in a cocoon and we just had to bloom on the ground. When you reach a certain age, you want to give back what you have been given. We wanted to be kind this season. It was the end and I didn’t want to waste time, rot my ideas or make negatives. In Bordeaux we have tried to stimulate something positive, to find the right words to make it work. It worked pretty well because we were comfortable in that group. The other players gave us that feeling of being able to express ourselves freely. They were receptive.

If we open the box of memories, what would be the most beautiful thing in common?

LP: It’s hard, we’ve known each other since we were 15 years old. Our horizons parted when we changed clubs but we have always maintained that strong bond. If I remember one, I would say the first Marseilles woman to live with François, Fufu and Julien Tomas (during the 2008 6 Nations Tournament, Ed). Compared to Montpellier’s place in French rugby, being four representatives of the club up there was a real pride. And sharing it with the friends I’ve played with since I was fifteen … Living with one is already huge. So, with three, it was pretty exceptional!

FT-D. : I definitely join him. Even young people, we experienced fabulous things: the first games with Montpellier although we were very carefree. We played maintenance, so there was a form of pressure. Then the international matches afterwards, with the French national team jersey on their backs and in front of a large audience. For me, it is impossible to separate all these memories.

You also lived together the 2011 World Cup or the historic victory over the All Blacks in Dunedin in 2009 …

FT-D. : It is not easy to put everything in order in our memories. In August, maybe we’ll do more “flashbacks” (smile). But beating the All Blacks is rare. So beating them at home is even more so.

And you will play together one last time, for your jubilee …

LP: Yes, July 30th. In a conversation with Francis, we talked about the possibility of organizing a jubilee. We thought, “Why don’t we do it together? Fufu also announced he was leaving. Come on, let’s do it all three! The wink is still pretty nice. It’ll be like the men we are and the careers we’ve had. “Sabathé, where we started. We can’t wait to live it, with the people we cared about. It will be joyful and full of emotions. A beautiful final bouquet.”

What awaits you now?

LP: The bond between us was not limited to rugby, so we will always have a lot of contacts. We will both settle in Montpellier and evolve into two completely different worlds. I am into agriculture. A new life begins, with projects and the illusion of starting this adventure. The idea is to make the most of it, as we did with our rugby career, wishing us at least the same success. We will also find simple moments, with our families. Our sporting life was exceptional, but we wanted to reconnect with a few simple pleasures.

FT-D. : My wife is also from Montpellier, where I was born. So let’s go meet family and friends. My wife had put her professional life on hold to follow me and get back to work. She is an architect and interior designer. For my part, I am the director of Fortil, an on-site engineering group. Starting in September, I will be 100% in this new role.


Common Jubilee July 30th

On July 30, the joint jubilee of François Trinh-Duc, Louis Picamoles and Fulgence Ouedraogo will take place at the Sabathé Stadium in Montpellier, where their common history began. There will be several legends such as Vincent Clerc or Gaël Fickou, and all generations of the MHR will be represented, to form three teams. The event will last from 15.00 to 19.00, with entertainment, refreshments, snacks and signature stands. The profits will go to an association.

Tickets are on sale in Montpellier at the MHR store, restaurants Les Vedettes, La Maison Vieillie France, Chez Bebelle, Espace Renaissance or RugbyStore. There will be no ticket sales on D-Day. More information at https://comme-un-ruck.fr or at the online box office https://jubile.camatau.com/billetterie/show/ 56/251

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