Rugby/Top 14: “To trigger a good dynamic, the SUA must make a big start to the season. »

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Brice Dulin, the French international rear (31 caps), was one of the Stade Rochelais executives in the quest for the European title last May. The 32-year-old Agenais looked back on his incredible season with La Rochelle. Maintenance.

Like many of his fellow rugby players, Brice Dulin, the Lot-et-Garonnais fullback from La Rochelle, has started preparing for the 2022-2023 season. On the program: a mix between rugby sessions and physical exercises. “Everyone has resumed except the players who were selected during the international tours, who will be in training in about two weeks”, specifies the former player of Agen, Castres and Racing 92. Stade rochelais, who has just completed the best season in its history with a Champions Cup title, is not satisfied. Just like his number 15, from the height of his 32 years, who wants to continue his harvest of trophies.

La Rochelle is having an exceptional season. How does it feel to be European champion and go down in the history of this club?

The Champions Cup was the first objective because it is the one that arrives the earliest in the calendar of the season. The year before, we reached the final twice and we realized how difficult it was to get there. So it was important for the group to go as far as possible in this competition. And when we knew we had another chance to play in the final, it was impossible for us to miss it again. Everyone was 1000% invested and the city was fully behind us. It was a very pleasant period to live in because we were lucky enough to be able to bounce back from the disappointment of last year. That’s why everyone responded. Because it was the number 1 objective. This star, few French clubs have managed to have it. And above all, it validates the work of this club for several years and our constant progress. And the return to La Rochelle and the crowd around our car was something unique.

“Maybe it was beneficial to lose all those finals. In the end, it is better to be patient. »

Last season, we had the impression that there was a Stade Rochelais in the European Cup, which was unplayable, and a Stade Rochelais in the Top 14, which was less efficient…

We had a fairly complicated start to the season with the first games where we failed to win. So, right away, we needed points and stability. But we integrated things and we gave ourselves the opportunity to play on both counts, both in the league and in the European Cup. The group stage of the Champions Cup went well for us and behind it we were lucky to have a more favorable schedule with only French clubs as opponents (twice UBB, Montpellier and Racing 92). Our end of the season was really complete. Whether it was the players who used to play and the others, everyone had a chance. It allowed everyone to stay connected. But after the European title, we had a little more trouble managing the end of the Top 14. There were a lot of matches left and we left a lot of energy in these Champions Cup final stages.

In Agen, you won the Pro D2; in Castres and Racing 92, you won the Bouclier de Brennus; and in La Rochelle, you brought home the Champions Cup. You have won a title in each club where you have been. What does this European Cup represent compared to your other trophies?

I had already lost three Champions Cup finals so far, with Racing 92 in 2018 and 2020 and with La Rochelle in 2021. Last year, after the defeat in the final, I really told myself that I I might never have the chance to win again. It was hard to accept. So when I saw our good run, I recommended to believe it. I said to myself: “The final is in France, in Marseille, with the public with us, why not finally win this European Cup? “. Maybe it was beneficial to lose all those finals. In the end, it is better to be patient. But that, we know only later. The European Cup is the trophy that I missed at club. Now it’s done.

In 2020, you arrive in La Rochelle from Racing 92. Your change of club also coincided with your return to Blue. Are you more fulfilled in your game at Stade Rochelais?

I arrived in a group that was performing well. The team was well in place, there was already a huge job that had been done and I took the wagon on the way. And then, afterwards, I stuck to the collective. And when you have fun at the club and in your everyday life, it’s much easier to make efforts on the pitch. So it happened quite naturally. And we also feel all the enthusiasm of the La Rochelle public. If in addition we are in phase with our teammates, everything is favorable for things to go well. And then all that remains is to have fun and roll everything.

Dulin and his coach Ronan O’Gara after the European title.

You are making a remarkable comeback in selection with an autumn 2020 tour and a very high level 2021 6 Nations Tournament. And yet, you lose your place to Melvyn Jaminet…

These are the paths of a career. This is exactly what happened with me the year before (he took the place of Anthony Bouthier, the holder at the back at 6 Nations 2020, editor’s note). I had the opportunity to return to selection with the autumn calendar which has been changed. And then, we had an extraordinary season with Stade La Rochelais with two finals and the staff of Les Bleus decided not to take the Top 14 finalists for the summer tour. And there, a few players have pulled out of the game in Australia. This is the selection game. The goal is not to change the way of operating and to continue to remain efficient. I continue to give my all and to be patient because the seasons are long and anything can happen. If we are good on the field, the selection bonus will arrive. The goal of each player is to make the coach scratch his head when he has to choose.

“The generations of players who are coming are super talented”

How come there is so much competition at fullback?

We are lucky to have generations of players who perform quickly. They arrive physically and mentally to play high level matches. The clubs may be playing their youngsters more too, so that allows a lot of players to have the opportunity to evolve in the Top 14 and in Pro D2, which is a very formative competition. It is rather a good thing that all positions are well supplied. It also forces everyone to move around and give their all all season long.

You experienced the difficult years with the XV of France and now the years of renewal under Fabien Galthié. What has changed between these two eras?

It is a whole. There is a staff that is complete, which has expanded compared to what could have been done in the past. Especially in terms of video and the distribution of tasks in the field. Whether for 3/4, for forwards, for defense, each member is specific in his role. It should not be denied either that the generations of players who arrive are super talented, with boys in each position who play and who perform well in the club. Behind, when all that is put together and in the right way, it works. The but now will be the regularity of the results and that the XV of France continues to win.

You are from Agenais, trained in Agen and you made your debut at the SUA. Do you continue to follow your first pro club?

I’ve followed the Pro D2 a bit in recent seasons, especially because my brother trains in Rouen. I always kept an eye on SU Agen, even the years when it was complicated for them. Because it is the club of my debut and I have friends at the SUA like Mathieu Lamoulie and Antoine Erbani, who has just returned. Last season, I suspected that they were going to wake up and stay in Pro D2. But it must not have been easy times for the players who love the club, who stayed there and always gave their all. I am happy that the club is finally recovering and that they can experience better times.

What will be the key for Agen to have a better season than the previous one?

To trigger a good dynamic, you have to make a big start to the season. From day one, every point counts. We must not start to miss each other because we know that behind we will chase the points until the end. And we know how important energy is to hold out in this marathon that is the Pro D2.

In your opinion, can the SUA go back to the first division in a few years?

We must already stabilize the club, the group, and after that things happen naturally. Even teams that fly over the championship, like Mont-de-Marsan last year, stumbled at the end of the season. The Top 14 and the Pro D2 are really championships where the level has increased exponentially over the last ten years. Today, it’s hard to be consistent and to follow seasons at a high level. So the SUA must stabilize and if the opportunity arises to move up to the next level, we must seize it.

What are Stade Rochelais’ objectives for the coming season?

It would be good to hang on to the final stages and play for as long as possible on both counts.

And individually?

If I continue to have fun on the field and not have an injury that keeps me away from it, it will already be not bad.

A remarkable passage to the cinema in 2019

In 2019, while he was away from the field for injury, Brice Dulin starred in Hafsia Herzi’s first feature film called “You deserve a love”. In the role of Bruno, “a man of the couple who is a follower of licentiousness” in the synopsis, he gives the reply to the actress preview in “The seed and the mule”, also director of the film. The Agenais returned to this experience in front of the camera, where he had not hesitated to give of his person. “It was during my cruciate ligament injury, remembers the Rochelais.
From acquaintances to acquaintances, I was asked if I was ready to make this little film. And then, I met the director Hafsia Herzi with whom I am of course super. And as I had time because of my injury, we launched the project. I’m happy to have experienced that, but acting is really a special job. It’s very complicated. Even if I don’t appear on screen a lot, I saw that it was a lot of work”. But, can being an actor be an idea for his post-career as a top athlete? The answer of the interested party is clear: “It was an opportunity like that but being an actor is not at all on the agenda. I think it’s going to stay there.”
A very low-budget film, “You deserve a love” has had a successful destiny. It was selected at the Cannes Film Festival, at Critics’ Week, where it was notably in competition for the Camera d’Or. Hafsia Herzi will even be rewarded with a prize for directing at the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival. A recognition that delighted the rugby player. “I am happy for the director because she has invested a lot, adds the French international. It was a big job for her and her teams because at the beginning they weren’t followed. And the film ended up working at the launch level and they were rewarded”.

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