Injured against Italy, Bernard Le Roux is currently recovering according to the IRB concussion protocol. Delighted to see his fellow Racingman Wenceslas Lauret selected against Wales, the international flanker looks back at his emotional début at Stade de France. And forward to a probable return for the Ciel et Blanc against Castres next week. (Credit photo : Julien Poupart // Attitude Rugby)
Bernard, ten days have now passed since you went off with concussion at the Stade de France. How are you feeling ?
I’m feeling really well. I started training again slowly last week, and this week have been doing a bit more. Last week, I was still suffering from head-aches, and I admit I was struggling with training, but after the weekend break, I am feeling really fresh. I’m following the protocol, which stipulates three weeks without playing and two weeks without any contact. I’m not feeling 100% yet, I’d say I’m about 90% better, but next week I can start doing contact work again, and hope to play our next game against Castres.
As chance would have it, in the France team named today you have been replaced by your Racing team-mate Wenceslas Lauret. What is your reaction ?
“Wen” is one of my best mates, he’s a really good friend and I’m as happy for him as he was for me when I got picked. He’s an outstanding player, clearly one of the best in France, and he fully deserves to be selected. We work hard together, and I am happy to give up my place for him.
You were in the starting XV for the first two rounds of the Six Nations against England and Italy. How did that go?
I thought the games went really well, I haven’t lost a game in France yet, so hopefully I won’t lose any. (laughs). It really felt good being back with the French team again, the World Cup is only a year and a half away, and I would really like to be part of that. The concussion is bad luck, but hopefully I will have a chance to prove myself again in the last two matches of the Six Nations.
In the game against England, even though you were replaced at half-time you were credited with 14 tackles, making you best tackler of game? Is that your mission?
Obviously I try to tackle as much as possible in the game, but I also make sure not to make any unnecessary tackles! Defence is my strong point, I work on it a lot, and I try to make my contribution to the team. I’m a good tackler, I’ve got a good work rate, so that’s what the coaches expect of me: stealing, tackling, and obviously running with the ball.
Although you had three caps before the start of the Six Nations, you had never played for France at Stade de France. Tell us what that was like…
It was just amazing! Singing “La Marseillaise” at the Stade de France was something I was really looking forward to, it was a huge moment and something I will always cherish. In some ways, I didn’t feel I was a real international until I played in Paris. Playing the All Blacks in New Zealand, watching the haka and all that, it’s huge. But singing “La Marseillaise” in Paris was just awesome! I was dreaming about that feeling for as long as I can remember. The first time I stood on the pitch at Stade de France, when we had just finished the anthem, I thought: “This feeling, this is something I have dreamed about all my life.”
But growing up in South Africa did you not dream about experiencing that feeling for the Springboks, rather than for France?
No, it was just international rugby (laughs). My dream was always just that : standing in front of the crowd, imagining those 80 000 people, having them all supporting me, and actually playing in front of them. To think I had actually achieved it, my whole body was full of goose bumps. I was actually experiencing that feeling…it was a dream come true! But there is still a long way to go. It’s not done yet, I still have a lot of work to do, and I still want to play a lot more games for les Bleus.
After the win against Bayonne last week, are the Ciel et Blanc finally starting to put things together?
Definitely! Things are definitely going better on the pitch, and I’m already looking forward to working with everyone next season. It sounds stupid, but we are getting to know each other really well now, and getting more structured as a team. We knew it would take time, but we will pick the fruits.
Are you surprised it has taken so long?
There were so many new players this season, so many seasoned internationals. When you see everyone training on their own, they are such amazing individuals, and like many others, I was actually expecting amazing performance from them. But individuals don’t make a rugby team, you need to learn and work as a team. So it has taken us a while. Rugby is a team sport, and now that we have got to know each other, it can only get better from here.
Your thoughts as the Ciel et Blanc prepare to play Bordeaux-Bègles, then Castres next week?
I’m convinced the latter part of the season is going go really well for us. It needs to go well for us, because we need to qualify. So we don’t have a choice, we have to win all the last games to qualify, starting in Bordeaux on Saturday. As for Castres, we didn’t play well in the away game, and we lost. So I am looking forward to it, I hope can be part of the team, and contribute something to the effort. But I believe we can win all our last games.
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