"He had hinted to me, but I had a little apprehension …" Like many observers of French rugby, Jean-Michel Ollivon therefore followed this Wednesday the announcement of the list of 42 players selected by Fabien Galthié to prepare the Six Nations tournament.
Among them, his son Charles, inducted new captain of the Blues for the five meetings of February-March at first. It was with an emotional father that we spoke a few hours later. And who took care to give us his look on the third line of Toulon of 26 years.
His beginnings in rugby
JEAN-MICHEL OLLIVON. "He didn't really have a choice (laughs). I played as a second line at the Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle club (Editor's note: in the Basque Country) then I took care of the rugby school, with my wife Brigitte, for several years. I brought his older brother, Alexandre, when he was 6 years old. Charles was 4, so he was watching training on the other side of the handrail. He took a ball and went to fight in the mud with the other kids who were there. After a while, he went to the other side of the handrail. "
The young rugby player
“I trained him until he was 13 years old. On the field, he was a winner, a snarling man who did not run away from the fight and who put all his aggressiveness to win. He didn't lose a lot of games but, when he did and he was a kid, I knew I was going to get him crying when I left the locker room. He was a good player, but he was nothing short of sensational. No very large club called me to inquire about him. At 15, he was spotted by Bayonne who recruited him, as he did with the right people from the region. And, behind, it went on … ”
His ascent and departure to Toulon
“At 19-20 years old, when he continued to progress with Bayonne, I told myself that he was going to realize his dream and become a professional. It ended up working… Behind, he was called for the first time to the Blues (Editor's note: in 2014) then he leaves for Toulon. There, it was not easy to live for the papa that I am. I was not worried about rugby because I knew he had the qualities to play, but more on a personal level. At 22, he left far from his loved ones and his family for the first time. I was apprehensive for everyday life. But he has adapted and returns when he can. When he comes back, we take a little tour of the cider house, like we did when he was younger after attending a Real Sociedad match (Editor's note: Spanish football team based in San Sebastian). "
“A very difficult time to live. He injured his left shoulder twice in 2017 and was again hit in the same place in September 2018. He had surgery in Toulouse, the family went to see him every time to support him. I was very afraid for him and the rest of his career. I didn't tell him, because a dad shouldn't say that to his son, but I was very sad when I imagined that everything could end for him… ”
"My son, new captain of the Blues … I am very proud and honored. I think his intelligence and his human qualities will help him manage this role. Charles is an emotional person who will always have a note for all his partners. Even if he is more or less close to his teammates, he will not make any difference between them and will have an attention for everyone. On the ground, he will set an example and go to coal. And everyone will follow him. "