By Thomas Larroquette
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We had left Montpellier on the first title of champion of France in its history won against Castres (29-10), on June 24 at the Stade de France. But the festivities are beautiful and well finished in the Hérault, since the men of Philippe Saint-Andre resumed training on Monday 1uh august. To pay Rugby NewsFrench international full-back Antoine Bouthier (30 years old; 7 selections) confides in this recovery and plans for the 2022-2023 season.
News: Isn’t it too difficult to get back to training after partying all summer?
Antoine Bouthier: Yes, it’s sure that the summer was festive at the beginning, but we still calmed down quickly! We started off on a good footing after the title, but afterwards it was a relaxing holiday. We had to regenerate, because we were really tired and there were physical glitches right and left. These 5 weeks of rest have been good for the body and the head. Now we are all aware that it is a very difficult season ahead of us. Personally, I feel very good and in great shape. It’s good to cut for a good month, at least today, we are on the attack for this off-season.
This rest also allowed you to cut with rugby…
A B : Yes it is really good. We are not used in season to being able to cut for so long, to enjoy the family and to change our daily lives a little. In addition, the weather is nice and warm, so it was always important to recharge your batteries and rest well to get back in top shape.
Is it easier or harder to return to training after a title-winning season?
A B : It’s easier, because we know and understand that training is not useless. so when you win a title, it’s even better! We feel that, for the group, it feels good to meet again. Doing physical preparation is never fun, so after a title it goes better. On top of that, when you’re a champion, the preparation is shorter (laughs).
Did the coaches tell you to calm things down and bounce back after a huge end to the season?
A B : Yes, but we were all aware of it. We have already switched to another season, we know it will be hard because the post-title years are difficult. But it’s up to us to be really ready, especially for the first meeting against La Rochelle, and then to put on a string of performances. We know that we will be expected on all terrains, so we will prepare well.
We imagine that the return to training was done in a good mood…
A B : The atmosphere was good since the group is not too systematic. The atmosphere has been very good for over a year and that’s what made us champions last season. This title brought us even closer.
I was happy to be able to bring Brennus back to Pouillon, for the club’s 100th anniversary!
What are your first impressions of the new recruits?
A B : We are getting to know each other little by little. When you’re new to a club, you don’t show up right away. But they are really very nice. They want to quickly integrate into the group so it’s a good point. It’s never easy to arrive in a group that works well… We get to know each other and they want to do it too, so it’s very good to prepare for the season.
Have you already discussed the club’s objectives with the coaches?
A B : No, we haven’t talked about goals yet. We will discuss this during the cohesion stage in Corsica from August 13 to 20 when we are complete. There, not everyone has arrived yet. We did it around the same time last year. I think we will do it then.
Did the shield of Brennus stop at your place in Pouillon?
A B : OUI bien sur. The Saturday after the final was my club’s 100th birthday, so I managed to bring it back. I was happy to be able to surprise them. The shield arrived at the end of the afternoon, it was a big party. There were a lot of people so I was happy to bring them the shield!
In addition to the results of Pouillon, do you follow those of Vannes where you spent 5 seasons?
A B : Yes I continue to follow them on TV, I still have friends who play them so I like to see them play and support them. I spent 5 good years there so I don’t cut ties like that!
You also recently participated in the jubilee of your ex-teammate Fulgence Ouedraogo last Saturday. How did that happen ?
A B : We knew it was going to be a great day, but going there for these three legends (Picamoles, Ouedraogo and Trinh-Duc, Ed), it was really fun. They all had bananas, they wanted to have a good time and party so we had no doubts about this day. They have given so much for rugby! There were a lot of people, a lot of former glories of this sport so it was very nice to participate.
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