« I cannot reword »

l’essentielThe book « Au cœur de l’ovalie » by Médéric Gasquet-Cyrus, Arnaud Richard, and Philippe Spanghero has been available in bookstores since the end of August.

From Walter Spanghero to Vincent Clerc, 15 rugby union personalities share their passion for the oval ball through 150 key words and expressions of this sport in « Au cœur de l’ovalie » (In the Heart of Rugby), a book co-written by Médéric Gasquet-Cyrus – linguist, author, publisher, and speaker –, Arnaud Richard – president of the French National Olympic Academy –, and Philippe Spanghero, former player. Philippe Spanghero provides further details.

Trois personnes ont collaboré pour écrire ce livre. Comment cette collaboration a-t-elle commencé ?

For me, it was an opportunity. I met Médéric Gasquet-Cyrus, who had already worked on collections like this one. There had been dictionaries about football and other topics, but never about rugby. He asked me to be a part of this project because of my experience and connection to this sport, which I share with my family, and I immediately liked the idea. I found it cool and unique, so it was the perfect chance.

Comment avez-vous sélectionné les 150 mots, expressions et anecdotes à découvrir pour cette édition ?

Initially, we had a first selection of 300 essential rugby elements, but we had to narrow it down. The three of us decided to focus on the most significant ones at first. We wanted to highlight the rich history behind a match or a training session. Additionally, we had the idea of conveying a strong message about teamwork and succession. The objective was to share with those familiar with this sport, as well as educate newcomers.

How long did it take you to complete the final product?

There was a 6-month team project. It was very interesting to have everyone’s perspectives. I provided a 60-year vision of rugby through my family. We decided to add testimonials from 15 personalities. Each person chose a word or phrase and described their feelings. I was quite happy to see that the project was very well received. We have Thierry Dusautoir, Daniel Herrero, Vincent Clerc, and many others involved. There was a genuine sharing around the project.

Does this sport hold a special place in your personal and family history? Is there a sense of nostalgia when writing a book about rugby?

Lucien Mias said: « Rugby is the only sport where we truly meet, while elsewhere we just cross paths, » and it’s true. Writing down all these stories was important to me. I feel somewhat privileged when I think about certain moments. I think about my father Walter Spanghero, who was a French international and tells me about the early tours. Even now, when I see former players or people I’ve met through rugby, I realize how fortunate I am to experience it from within.

Quelle anecdote du livre vous marquerait le plus si vous deviez en choisir une ?

It is difficult to choose, they are all interesting and full of history. But I would still keep the one from my uncle Claude Spanghero. It was the semi-final against Clermont – the year Narbonne won the title in 79 – he had locked the players in the locker room. He had told them to break down the door if they wanted to play the match. It is a quite incredible scene but it illustrates well the expression « se monter le bourrichon ».

Nous sommes actuellement en plein cœur de la Coupe du monde. N’est-ce pas agréable de pouvoir profiter à la fois des jeux et des matchs en même temps ?

The fact that the editor is not innocent should not be hidden. Besides that, I had no idea how everything would work out. This opens the door to many possibilities, especially for transmission. I wanted to get involved, and the fact that it happened at this moment allows for even more discussion. It provides a larger platform for resonance. It is important to reach new people and transmit the values of rugby.

On Saturday, September 16th, Philippe Spanghero will be hosting a book signing event at the Maison Bébelle restaurant in Narbonne.

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