AMATEUR. As a role model for young people with disabilities who dream of rugby, Raphaël Bourillot continues to push his limits

PHOTO. Rugby stronger than the handicap with the meeting between Raphaël and young Marwane

We had the nice surprise of seeing Raphaël Bourillot play Rugby No Limit again this year. Raphaël, it’s that back that Rugbynistère had hit at Le Creusot during a Federal 2 game a few seasons ago. Distinctive feature of the player: a birth defect in the left hand. A problem at rugby? Raph’ demonstrates the opposite every day as an accomplished national team player. With his team Barbarians Bourguignons, with which he won No Limit, he demonstrated all his individual technique to appear as the best assist player in the competition. Respect.

It was a crazy atmospherehe tells us. With friends we were used to classic 5v5 rugby tournaments! But there, judging by the fervor from Friday night, it was really great!“. The Baabas not only skimmed the weekend’s pétanque animation, but also won a major tournament to bag the title. A title they aim to defend next year.

We were used to the French rugby championships and there it took us out of our habit, we had to adapt quickly. Also, we had an all-boys team and, for example, we faced two all-women teams in the morning. With this rule, if a girl has been touched, go and touch your goal line. It was hard. After that we adjusted quickly, that’s how it was.

The further we progressed in the tournament, the more difficult the level became. Example of our semifinals where we lost 3/2 and won 4/3 with one minute to go. The final, everyone saw it, we played a great game to be able to win the tournament

An eventful semi-final and one-way final where the 700 No Limit entrants could only see the superiority of the Barbarians Burgundians against a great Berlots team. When a cocked 20-meter missile landed in a player’s arms, it was Raphaël’s doing. Pass left or right, it doesn’t matter. It was quick.

As an example of determination to achieve his dream, Raphaël stayed in touch with little Thibaud, who suffered from the same disability he met in 2017. The two players stayed in touch and became friends.

We kept in touch with Thibaud and spent a few weekends together. He came with my old club to see me play at Annecy and it’s always a pleasure to see him again. I stayed with him over the weekend so he could show me around. I’m still in constant contact with him and I’ve followed his rugby development since I met him. It is a real pleasure to see him and his family at every opportunity.

This season Thibaud had the chance to play at national U16 level and also with the second team at regional level. We narrowly missed a meeting between my team and his, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible for various reasons. He’s at a very interesting level and if he continues like this I think he can play at a very good level. Despite his handicap, after seeing his development, you feel like there is no problem. He can play scrum half or opener, that’s pretty impressive

AMATEUR: Becoming a rugby player with a disability is not an unattainable dream, Raphaël and Thibaud prove itAMATEUR: Becoming a rugby player with a disability is not an unattainable dream, Raphaël and Thibaud prove it

Thibaud didn’t give up on pursuing his dream of playing rugby at a high level despite his physical disability. His mentor knew how to show him the way and the path to follow. Little Marwane, who also suffered from a birth defect in his right hand, had also met Raph in 2016. The two have recently traded but will meet again very soon at Gennevilliers in the group stage of the 2022/23 season.

Like every national player, Raphaël has a professional project that he was able to realize.

On the professional side, I’ve worked as a sports manager for a rugby club for the past seven years. I want something different and above all to recharge my batteries. The care of children in an amateur club is very time-consuming and energy-consuming. Today I want to find a job where I can help rugby thrive.

Today we can say that I am a full-fledged rugby player and that was the goal.

Indeed, Raphaël is a player like any other. He therefore accepted the challenge of moving from Chagny (Fédérale 3) to Federal 1 in Nuit-Saint-Georges. Hardworking and well surrounded by his close circle, he will continue to work tenaciously at work to earn his place in the workforce. He’s now somewhere an ambassador for young players with physical disabilities who dream of playing rugby or any other sport. His success is already a great hope for all these children, the best examples of which are Marwane and Thibaud.

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