Former rugby player Aristide Barraud draws a parallel between the physical preparation of the Blues and "death by overwork", a social phenomenon in Japan, in the chronicle he holds for "The World" over the competition .
"Oval Rising". Finding places in our past helps measure changes in our lives. In July, years after my last internship, I found the National Rugby Center in Marcoussis. The XV of France made his big come back with official photos, measures for tuxedos and delivery of packages.
The extended seasons damage the physical and wear the spirits. After their short vacation, I found old friends in worse condition than me. For the last four years, I have been caring for my body, they continue to put their physics to the test. I attended their first laps, just rested, attacking a demonic preparation, for many the most exhausting of their career. I observed the resumption of their sore bodies and feared for them, with each new step, a karoshi.
A true social phenomenon, the karoshi, or "death by overwork", is one of the great evils of contemporary Japanese society. Reactivated by a wave of collective emotion a few months after the death of young and promising mangakas (authors of mangas) subjected to infernal rhythms, the karoshi is now registered in the labor code and overtime limited to one hundred per month. But the evil persists, and in 2018 one in five Japanese confessed not having taken a vacation of the year.
After a teenage summer with short courses and selections, an early adult life in the summer months to sweat blood and water, I rediscovered this year August weeks pacified. Keeping me informed of the burning preparation of the Blues, I thought of them every day of heat wave, with each warning of heat. Their homeric summer under a blazing sun was to finish the peak for the first match against Argentina.
The need to catch up requires heavy workloads, dedication, body and soul, and no matter how moral wear and tear.
I wondered about their psychological freshness in the first game, their ability to restart the machines in a difficult context after so little time to recharge the batteries. At this level of competition, mental strength and physical abilities are not enough and the body is silenced more easily than the mind. But to my relief, despite some unfortunate home early and friendly games that increased the wave of discouragement, no karoshi has not been diagnosed.
So Saturday, expected to turn ten thousand kilometers from home, mocked and excluded according to the predictions of the contenders for the finals, the Blues have held the negative pressure, body and imposed the rhythm in the first half. The encephalogram was flattened at the end of the locker room, like a cerebral stop or sudden atony, thirty minutes of XV karoshi.
Japanese culture praises long-term work and self-sacrifice. Saturday's match was the reason for the frustrated rest and the extended days, the months of suffering are valid for very little. Saturday in Tokyo, a few centimeters for the French drop and this timely gust of wind at the moment of the ultimate penalty Argentina we avoid a World Cup in slow agony. The opposite would have had enough to discourage and relaunch slander. But the legend is made in the sweat and thanks to the victories, the physical sufferings are easily amortized, certain exploits deserve to graze the karoshi.
Aristide Barraud, 30, is a former professional rugby player. Ex-international under 20 years, he has notably played in the Top 14 with the French Stadium before exiling himself in the Italian league.