By Simon Galinier
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Nicknamed the “Boar of Corbières” or “Forest”, for those close to him, he was one of the emblematic players of the Top 14 of the last decade. It is of course the Narbonnais Yannick Forestier (40 years old), trained at the RCNM, then passed through Albi, Colomiers and Castresa last club where he spent most of his career (164 games with the CO from 2004-2016) and with whom he defeated the Brennus shield in 2013. He was also international french 11 times from 2012 to 2014 and also participated in 3 tours of Barbarians Français (Australia 2005, Argentina 2011 and Japan 2012). Quite logically, when it reveals itself, for Rugby Newsthe most outstanding players of his 15-year career, his list mainly includes pillars and also a strong Castres accentbut not only…
Yannick Forestier quoted first the current manager of Provence Rugby (Pro D2) and former Argentinian international pillar (39 selections), Mauricio Reggiardothat Forestier rubbed shoulders with at Castres Olympique as a player during Puma’s last professional season (2004-2005) then as a coach in 2007 and 2015. “I consider him my spiritual father. When I arrived in Castres in 2004, he immediately took me under his wing. Between noon and two, I always went to eat at his house,” explains Forestier, before revealing that the latter was at the origin of the famous mittens that the former French international on each of his outings on the portrait: “All the guys chambered me, because they thought that I wanted to do like my spiritual father”, he laughs, before continuing:
Indeed, it was he who introduced me to these gloves made by an Argentinian brand, but they had a real use for lifting in touch. At the time, we were doing half blocks with Yannick Caballero, who was light and had a big jump, but I didn’t need to hug the guys by taking them on the knee. With these gloves, which are a kind of diving suit turned inside out, the more you sweat, the more you hang on. With the pressure and momentum of the jumper, I kept my hands flat and threw the jumpers at the quads, before landing them at the ankles, so we had a gain of 30 to 40 cm on each touch… That’s the usefulness of these gloves.
- Carl Hoeft and Kees Meeuws
Following, Yannick Forestier quotes two former All Blacks pillars he rubbed shoulders with under the colors of the CO: Carl Hoft (30 selections) and Kees Meeuws (42 selections), for whom “he has a lot of respect”. “I have rarely seen a player like Carl Hoeft. In terms of professionalism, attitude, and even kindness, it was the best! I spent delicious moments with him, because he is a guy who is really in or with whom I have kept in touch, ”says the Narbonnais. “While Kees Meeuws marked me in terms of the physical dimension. In terms of size and pure physique, he was the one that impressed me the most, by far! It was one hell of a beast! »
- The “rocks Willy Bégarie and Karena Wihongi”
Among the pillars he most feared to face in closed scrum, Yannick Forestier cites two heavyweights: Willy Begarie (ex-Toulouse and Agen) whom he rubbed shoulders with at Colomiers during the 2003-2004 season, as well as Karena Wihongipassed by Lons-Le-Saunier, Oyonnax, Bourgoin-Jallieu, Sale, Castres and Carcassonne and current coach of the CO scrum.
“Physically, the toughest pillars I’ve played, because at the time it came into the scrum, it was Willy Bégarie and Karena Wihongi, when they were in the thick of it. When you ran into them, you were electrified, because they were really rocks. Wihongi was an illustrious unknown when he arrived from Bourgoin-Jallieu, but he was a real stone in the scrum. While Begarie impressed me with her toughness. I’m still in contact with him and I like to call him the ” white shrek“, car in terms of strength, it was really Shrek on land.
- Romain Teulet, Rodrigo Capo Ortega and Mathieu Bonello, the CO colony
Finally, “Forest” wanted to name players who inspired him and “marked by their human qualities” and these are three figures from Castres Olympique and Tarn rugby: ” Romain Teulet and Rodrigo Capo Ortega left their mark on the Castres club, I have enormous respect for them and so many anecdotes to tell alongside them… “Teuteu”, he impressed me with his always perfect lifestyle, while the “big Capo”, it was more for his extraordinary physical and human qualities. I must also quote “Bobo” (Matthew Bonello) who was my great friend for 9 years (2007-2016). We spend more time together in the rooms than with our respective families and it remains a friend for life! »
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