Skip to content

Feature: Barbarians was the American dream

Narrowly beaten by a selection from the United States which was preparing its qualifying round for the World Cup, despite a last half hour which could have (or should) have offered them a better outcome, the Baa-Baas came out of their journey to the Texas.

Late Thursday morning, the players were called for a (very) brief video session – during which coach Christian Labit especially insisted on the power of an American second line – punctuated by the presentation of the legendary Barbarians tie from the hands of Laurent Pardo.

The latter first called Pierre Aguillon, who engraved on his skin the spirit of this team of which he was already a member in the past. He then said these words: “He has it in tattoo. But we’ve all had this philosophy in our hearts since we were eight or ten years old. The Baa-Baas are both our happiness and our dream. Certainly, rugby has become professional but it must continue. It’s important and it’s up to you to pass it on today. »

More than a mission, a duty. Which everyone tried to be worthy for a week, in joy and very good humor. A handful of days, barely three training sessions (including one in swimming trunks on the beach) and a few touches to create a group capable of competing with an American national team which, on its land, was preparing its round-trip qualifying barrage at the 2023 World Cup.

“This jersey is your friends, your educators, your parents”

Between an afternoon on a boat in Trinity Bay, a visit to NASA during which Damien Chouly, Jean-Baptiste Dubié and Mathieu Acebes had the brilliant idea of ​​dressing up as astronauts and met with some success with tourists, or a few recreational trips, the only objective was to strengthen the bonds between guys, some of whom did not even know each other.

Cohesion, the very essence of this sport. All complemented by a minimum of combinations in touch or behind, and barely more than three melee links. “And yet I believe that we are going to win,” regularly confided manager Denis Charvet before the match. He was so close to the truth. A meter, a minute or an arbitration decision rarely in favor of his men who failed in stoppage time in front of the opposing in-goal after their crazy comeback.

Admittedly, the preparation was atypical but, as everyone has constantly repeated, the magic had worked. “Everything we do must be excessive”, hammered Captain Romain Sazy to his troops the day before the meeting. Because what these guys went through in Houston is beyond them.

Message that transpired from the moving delivery of jerseys, two and a half hours before kick-off. “We don’t have much to give, apart from this exceptional and sacred jersey, confided Charvet. We also had a tie to give you, and the duty to accompany you.” And Laurent Pardo to insist: “This jersey is all your friends, your educators, your parents. They are all here today. This artisanal rugby that we want to defend and protect, it is up to you to make it exist. Show on the field that you want to be happy. »

The words of Acebes, the confession of Lapègue

The manager even had misty eyes and a trembling voice at the moment of putting his tunic back on Sazy, “the most Barbarian of Barbarians” according to him. The latter answered him: “I have never been a great player but, this shirt, I will dirty it tonight. A collective promise to keep. And, behind whole days of frank laughter, the tension rose slowly in the bus that took the Baa-Baas to the Aveva Stadium. Far from the supercharged atmosphere known in the same place a short time earlier…

So if, at halftime of the meeting, Mathieu Acebes uttered strong words, calling his friends to revolt, it was precisely to show himself up to what he and his partners had been experiencing since they had posed foot in Texas. Led even 23-7 in the 51st minute, the Barbarians ended up falling into madness to reverse the course of events. “There was a need for a collective awareness, explained the Perpignanais. We had to react. We did it and it could have smiled on us in the end. »

It should have, surely… But, if the Barbarians lost, those who were on the lawn for this meeting nevertheless won so much. “Be proud to have had this desire to return to the game, claimed Labit. It is your victory. And Charvet to give the floor in the locker room, according to tradition, to those who were celebrating their first cape. Adrien Lapègue then made this admission: “I had François (Trinh-Duc) in the background of my laptop for at least two years when I was young. This time, he wore this mythical jersey by his side, for his last. What if that was the famous dream of the Baa-Baas?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.