You admitted to Midi Olympique that you developed a form of depression after your injury (Acruciate ligament rupture followed by surgery in May 2021). When did you realize that you were unwell?
during the first infection. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. It hurt, I was on pills, I was bedridden… Six weeks after the operation, I still did not put my foot on the ground… I was wondering if I could walk again… J I had nausea when I got up when I went up the stairs, and I was afraid that it would be permanent. It was really hard and that first infection hurt me. Moreover, on the day when I was able to walk again, I realized that I would have to strengthen my muscles, that it would take a long time. Then the second infection. Relapse…
How did you manage to get out of it?
The challenge was to collect as much information as possible about people who have experienced such traumas. The fact is that I did not have a sparing operation, I had a full house … So I had this need to understand what awaits me at the time of rehabilitation, recovery training, returning to competitions … the medical staff helped me set up mode, rehabilitation. And I know that this injury has changed my approach to work.
Now I will prepare like an old man (laughs). That is, doubling, strengthening, etc. It was an old trauma, I tried to quickly realize it in order to devastate myself, to mourn the competition. The day after the operation, I tried to keep myself busy, stay in touch with the group and plan for the upcoming season.
When did you see the end of the tunnel?
The day I could run. November/December. It was gradual, but that’s when I started to regain my confidence.
What was the role of your three children and your wife in the most difficult moments?
He was operated on in May, the peak of injuries occurred in the middle of summer. The hardest thing was to see my children without being able to carry them… I couldn’t take my daughter on my lap, I couldn’t play with her… I’m very close to my children and suffered from it. Fortunately, my wife did her best to accompany me. I tried to help her, to make her feel that I was next to her … But she carried it all on her shoulders. She was there for me, for them, went out of her way, stayed calm, took her time, and I will be forever grateful to her.
I have deep respect for the wives of football players. They see how we leave every weekend, take on all the responsibilities … Living with a top athlete is good when you play, train, everything goes well. But when there are fewer of them, they are incredible. And we can’t thank them enough. If I didn’t have a wife and children, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to recover from the injury.
Ironically, did the trauma strengthen your family?
I have always said: I will never sacrifice my family for rugby. They supported me and were always there for me. When you are in pain, the phone rings less, you come face to face with yourself, and only your family supports you. They always made time for me and I need them every day.
Are you fully recovered today?
Yes. I found a more “classic everyday life, between training sessions, Wednesday weekends, matches… I put my boots back on, set goals for myself again. I was looking forward to this.
You are one of the first players to remove the armor and have actually become one of the spokespersons raising awareness of depression in the sport. Was it important?
Essential. I’ve met many players who ended their careers prematurely and found themselves suddenly lonely. End of career, breach of contract… You point to unemployment, write a resume, cover letter, try to reintegrate into working life… But how do you apply for a job? It’s the little things that we’re not all ready for… When you play in the Top 14, we wash your things, accompany you, pamper you, you have procedures in the morning and afternoon… But as soon as it closes… I often think of Gabriel Lacroix
He was extraordinary on the field, and an injury was enough for everything to collapse … Overnight, he discovered an active life for himself. Weird… We all experience micro-depression, even if we can’t always put it into words… We have to be prepared. Be ready to fall down, stand up, fit in… For years we have always looked after our extra rugby but life isn’t like that… So carry-talk is a big word but I thought talking about it might help some guys. Help them understand that behind a bonnard who laughs and jokes, there is work on oneself. We need to be able to find answers before we find ourselves back against the wall.
What kind of support would you like to give to clubs, League or Federation?
It is important to inform clubs about the importance of organizing support and psychological preparation. Of course, we don’t turn to specialists… It’s not easy to go to a coach, to a psychiatrist… It’s even a bit of a taboo.
The guy is going to talk to you about psychology, he will have to confide in you when you are not going to… But we must understand that they are professionals who have done a lot of research and use professional secrecy. It must be in keeping with manners. We have the right to have a form of fragility, it is not a crime. We must support the players on these topics.
How was your performance received?
I received a lot of messages from former players, from players. Thank you encouragement. By emphasizing this life stage, known to many athletes, we also think about new generations. It covers a medium that goes beyond athletic performance… In my career, I’ve met guys who were on a pedestal and fell overnight. Or the players who gritted their teeth to hide their weaknesses… I was told that it was courageous, but I felt it necessary to mention it publicly.