Former rugby player Aristide Barraud is introspecting and finally closing the rugby parenthesis, which has shaped his life so far, in the column he held for "The World" over the competition.
"Oval Rising" The plane moves away from Osaka Bay, gaining height and emerging from clouds. After a few hours of flight, looking through the porthole, I can see the flames of pipelines scattered over the plains of Siberia. I ask the hostess if it is possible to access the cockpit, find a sensation buried for ten years. At the time, it was proposed to me, this time I am refused, I have no cock on my heart, the privileges of the uniform have disappeared.
But I do not mind, in four years without rugby I got used to it, I'm no longer a player, I'm next. I have lived in recent weeks as the peak of hanging up crampons. A month of October in final clap, passed in the camp of journalists and the shadow of the press rooms.
I took the time and wandered around the Japanese metropolises to understand that we are only grains of dust, particles among so many others lost in the midst of sprawling cities. This puts us back to our right places, helps to relativize: in the crowd, belittle his ego is relatively easy. I had this thought when I crossed Lavanini, the Argentinian second-row, after his red card against England. Walking alone in Osaka, exceeding by two heads the rest of the passers-by, with a low look and an absent air.
An important void
Not to lose myself in my wanderings, a postcard at the bottom of my notebook never left me, showing me the way as a compass. A colorful card, stamp of Hokusai that my mother sent me at the New Year 2015, in Mogliano Veneto, in the province of Treviso where I played then, wishing me a good life and a happy new year.
Because it promised to be radiant and important. A few days before, I had met representatives of the Italian Federation. I started a sporting and administrative process until the Squadra Azzura, with horizon 2019 World Cup in Japan. I thought the planets were lining up, but a few months after my tectonic plates were separating. A major earthquake, magnitude 10, as the number I carried in the back.
It was the evening of November 13, 2015, the All Blacks had just won the World Cup in England. We had a lot to do with half-hearted lives, to discover our battered bodies or those who had been knocked down.
The Japanese speak of " Satori "an internal earthquake that makes certainties waver, upsets the equilibrium and creates an important void that only time can fill. I've been away from rugby for other things in the last two months; these chronicles allowed me to get closer to it. I returned to Japan ten years later, with ten pounds less and metal in my body, I was a rugby player, and now a cyborg.
My life as a player has gone
This World Cup was my ultimate sporting goal, I never imagined any further than October 2019. On Saturday, at the final whistle, the last reminiscence of my life as a player flew away, and I wavered to last time, as the ultimate replica of my inner earthquake.
Rugby has created ramifications that structure my life. This sport shapes the directions of our lives. Wanting to detach us is to swim against the current
From today the shaking will stop and leave me in peace. I do not want to talk about trying, I want to try for real. For a rugby life is not just games, the memories and friendships that persist are continuity. For my last day, I chose to see my friend Nicolas Kraska. We met with the selection of Ile-de-France at 14 years old. He came from Courbevoie, and I, from Massy, later we played against each other in hopes and proD2, he then left to play in Japan, and I in Italy.
We saw each other in Yokohama, he had become a father the week before, a few days after the typhoon, and his baby's eyes are sky-blue in the aftermath of a storm. A jade green, like the stone worn by the Maori around the neck. Jamie Joseph, the coach of Japan had given one to each of his players for the competition. A New Zealander of origin and a figure in the Wellington Maori community, he played for the Brave Blossoms before coaching them. I had to meet him in mid-October, but the background around their qualification and the typhoon changed the game. He is the childhood friend of my first coach in Italy and was trained by Wayne Smith, world champion coach with the All Blacks who brought the number 10 of Mogliano Veneto twenty years before me. He now trains the Kobe Steelers, I met him in Tokyo on a garden perched on a roof.
Even if I do not, rugby has created ramifications that structure my life. He opens parentheses that close gradually. This sport shapes and creates the directions of our lives. Wanting to detach us is to swim against the current. This thought reached me on the plane bringing me back to France. After intense weeks on the other side of the world, in the country of the rising oval.
Aristide Barraud, 30, is a former professional rugby player. Ex-international in the under-20s, he has notably played in the Top 14 with the Stade Français, before exiling himself in the Italian league.
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