It’s Saturday morning, you’re preparing for a grassroots rugby fixture later that afternoon, and tucking into a couple of croissants and a cup of coffee; not once do you think that you’ll be facing a former All Black in the loose.
Everything4Rugby Director, Carl Hayman, has further re-connected with the amateur side of rugby in the way he knows best; by joining an amateur side on the training ground and match day pitch. The lucky club are Bizanos, who play in the fifth tier (Federale 3) of French amateur rugby.
Here’s an exclusive interview with the Pau Forwards coach surrounding being coaxed out of retirement.
What was the main reason for you to dust off the boots and head back to the pitch in a playing capacity?
Well funnily enough, one of the video analysis guys at Pau played for them in the midfield a couple of years back, and so he suggested I head down to training for a run around, considering they’re located nearby. I'm always keen to keep my fitness levels up so it’s a great way to do so with some good old rugby craic on the side. It amazes me that wherever you go in the world, grassroots clubs seem to have a similar setup and mix of characters, which is very refreshing.
Have you been down to meet the boys already?
Yeah, I’ve started training with the guys and I actually really enjoyed it. It was nice to run around and kick a ball about without having to focus too much on player performance etc. I think it’ll provide me with some great balance and also a nice avenue for fun every few nights. Nice group of guys too so I’m looking forward to taking to the pitch with them at some point.
What have been the main reasons for you deciding to head back down to training?
Well I haven’t played grassroots rugby or been involved with a grassroots club within a playing capacity since I was straight out of high school, so firstly I guess, I just wanted to experience it again. It also further keeps me in touch with the grassroots game and provides me with a great balance between pro and amateur rugby, which is of course a key focus of mine with my involvement with E4R.
Are You Planning on Playing a Full Season?
Haha! No, unfortunately I’m not going to be able to play every single game due to commitments with Pau, however I’ll get down to training during the week and will play whenever I can. It’ll be great to don the club’s colours and put the old boots back on but it certainly won’t be a weekly thing.
Although there's no set date for his first appearance, we’re sure that whenever he plays, crowds will gather for his performance, which can be no bad thing for the club’s revenue!
Also, if you’re playing in the Bizanos pack, you’re going to be rather motivated knowing you have a former All Black amongst your ranks.