Wilfrid Hounkpatin: XV of France, recycling… Focus on the pillar of Castres Olympique

Zapping World Fifteen Sofiane Chellat: “Playing the World Cup in France would be historic for Algeria”

Before we start, tell us about Saint-Lary’s preparation, what is the program? are you in pain

The start of the week has been difficult, we have galloped a lot, but we have a lot of rugby and conditioned play. The start of the week was difficult, it was not badly managed, but we have a lot of rugby and conditioned play. Wednesday was a bit smoother with activities on the mountain with orienteering course, ax throwing, biathlon and we finished with barbecues and songs.

The new recruits have been integrated so that they can acclimatize to the team and the military identity and visualize our game plan.

”When you’re in a room with him, you know it”

Wilfrid Hounkpatin and Christophe UriosPhoto credit – Iconsport

You are one of those who has an atypical career that goes from Federal 1 with Rouen to TOP 14 with Castres, what advice can you give to young players who would like to be like you?

I would just like to tell them that you need to have self-confidence and work tirelessly, there is no secret to success. Of course, you need meetings at the right time, but you also need to know how to force fate.

You arrived in Castres under the direction of Christophe Urios, is it as tough as he suggests? Do you understand why he has been at the center of discussions about his management style for several months?

I never found Christophe Urios to be tough. I think more that he is someone very charismatic and has a strong aura. When you’re in a room with him, you know. He is a hard worker and a man who will always tell you what he thinks. Sometimes, I can understand that he can shock and surprise, but personally, I prefer this kind of person. He has his own way of looking at things, his own way of speaking, but when you speak the same language with him, it’s always good.

He is a coach who has proven himself and continues to do so and we can never take him away. He has done extraordinary things with certain teams.

An increasingly mobile rugby

At 31 years old you have established yourself as one of the best pillars of the championship, what room for improvement do you have for next season?

I think I can be more mobile. A few weeks ago, I was almost at 130 kg and now I’m back down to 124 kg, that’s less to drag (laughs). I feel better, I feel sharper than usual. Generally, in the summer, we tend to gain weight, but I try to be careful.

We ask that the pillars become more and more mobile and the key word of the next season will be “mobility”. I will always try to contribute more to my team.

You have been at Tarn for 4 years, you recently extended your contract with Castres until 2026, you are now one of the team’s veterans, how do you see this leadership role?

When I arrived, I didn’t have this role as a leader in the team, but little by little it has been imposed on me. The longer you stay in a club, the more you have to contribute to the group. I still have a few good years ahead of me, but it’s true that I’m starting to be one of the old ones.

The 2023 World Cup on the horizon

Wilfrid Hounkpatin

Wilfrid HounkpatinPhoto credit – Iconsport

The 2022/2023 season will be decisive for all internationals, what are your goals with the CO on a collective and personal level?

With the CO, as I told you, I want to act, but with us it goes through the collective. We have very good players, great individuals, but what makes us strong is the collective. We are like that, we are a difficult team to play against.

On a personal level, I would like to show myself more without neglecting this collective duty. I will do my best to improve what I lacked and erase all these imperfections. To be selected, you need to get noticed in the right way and the good results of the club can enlighten us. I’m talking about Florent Vanverberghe, GaĆ«tan Barlot or Wayan de Benedittis.

Of course you have to have this World Cup in your sights?

I don’t hide it, I would like to get a place in the group for the World Cup in 2023. Every time I set goals in my life, I did everything to succeed and there again I have a big job ahead of me. I’m not afraid, I’ll give it my all and if I’m not selected it’s because it was meant to be.

A distorted European Cup

To stay at international level, what are your thoughts on South African clubs coming to the European Cup? Isn’t it an added hardship in an already long and tiring season?

Honestly, I think it’s good to want to integrate foreign teams, but it’s a little far. As a player, it is a pleasure to play against a South African team. We have already been to Russia with Castres and it was an incredible adventure, these are things that are strong to experience. It doesn’t matter the team, it doesn’t matter the country, we want to play.

But for the preparations, it will be a headache, I think. Physically, we will have to adapt and the coaches will have to make decisions. From start to finish, it will be difficult to line up the same starting XV with this frenetic pace. I’m just a player, if they tell me to play in South Africa or China, I’ll go there. But one thing is certain, we shouldn’t call this competition the ”European Cup” anymore, if we don’t play in Europe.

Who is the toughest player you have had to face and the one you preferred to have on your team?

In the scrum, I would say Misha Nariashvili played for Montpellier. I was with him with hopes and then I confronted him when I arrived in Castres. For me, he has always been a tough opponent. I know him well, hopefully, we heard banging bars, we were going down, it was Misha who was training. I have great respect for him.

Opposite level, I would not have liked to have Rodrigo Capo Ortega against me. Also, he took me under his belt, he was the one who made me love the club and the players. I have a very strong and close bond with him.

A recycling away from the rugby fields

Wilfrid Hounkpatin

Wilfrid HounkpatinPhoto credit – Iconsport

You’ve already explained that you wanted to retrain after your career in the restaurant business, so why not a coaching role like Rory Kockott?

I experienced what it was like to be on the pitch, to be a player and I don’t really see myself on the sidelines. The sensations we experience in the field are so enormous that I have not found them anymore. I don’t want to get frustrated, I’d rather get away from the field and cut everything. My dream was to be a professional player and I live it fully.

Every day I live from my passion, but I am a very determined and stubborn person, I think it will be the best. But what is certain is that he would return to the club, but he would go to the rock. I will start a new project and a new life awaits me.

What can we wish you for this new season?

We can wish me to protect myself from injury, therefore the health, success of the team and staff. For the World Cup, we will see that at the end of the season, I really want to be able to shake this hierarchy in the position and why not take part in it. I will do everything for

to summarize

Pre-season, XV of France, course, Castres Olympique… So many topics that pillar Wilfrid Hounkpatin was able to discuss with the editorial team of Quinze Mondial.

Jeremy Pol

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