Daniel Herrero, coach of the Toulon Rugby Club from 1983 to 1991, poet of Ovalie, colossus with the red headband and legendary eloquence, has not hung up his crampons. He continues to travel, write, give lectures and commentate on the Six Nations Tournament on Sud Radio (from February 4 to March 18), always driven by a contagious appetite for life and sharing.
I wouldn’t have come here if…
If, when I was little, I had not encountered an object, the ball, with which I immediately tied a total affection which triggered in me the best of flavors. I don’t know how to date the origin of this passion, but I have the vague memory of having received an orange as a Christmas present, a potential candy that created a taste for this round object full of promise.
The ball, what exactly does it mean to you when you meet it as a child?
She delights me. It quickly represents for me a burst of joy, a burst of laughter, an affectionate companionship. She is incredibly understanding with the child that I am. I do not know exactly at what age she comes in my life, but she will immediately become the partner of my childhood, my youth and the rest of my life.
You are talking about a ball and not a ball…
I’ve never asked myself the question, but it’s true that I know it’s feminine in my journey. I cajoled, felt, manipulated entire containers of balls.
In your family universe, where everyone plays rugby, has the ball always been central?
You might think so, but surprisingly, no. In my family, the ball allows playing on a pitch, but it is no more valued than the posts, the jersey, the cleats or the colleagues. For my father or my brothers, the idea of courage, of combat finds its expression in a game which happens to be rugby. In my world, it’s much stronger, the ball is my girlfriend. I’ve always had one in my hand, even before rugby. It’s a miserable, pitiful round rubber ball, a 2-ball that I smack against my street wall and like to bounce. It is what triggers joy, it is the object of my identity. In my family, we expect success rather than joy.
Where did your family come from?
My four grandparents were impoverished, illiterate Spanish immigrants. They crossed the Pyrenees so as not to starve, worked from farm to farm and died speaking Spanish without ever having taken French nationality. They never had anything of their own. In this region of France of Languedoc, they worked in the vineyard. This land is also, for unknown reasons, a land of rugby, it is the only sport that is practiced there. My father got married very young, he was also a farm worker and played rugby in his village club with some talent for ten years.
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