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The career ofAlex Tolou crossed France from east to west. Through Burgundy, Montpellier, Castres, Lyons and daxthe former third median in 50 trials top 14 devoted Rugby News like never before. Strangely arrived in Bourgoin impressed by Joshua Tuisova and left of Montpellier after a bad relationship with Jack White (Ex-Springbok trainer), American Samoan, opens the souvenir box. The detour is worth it.
News: Alex, your career in New Zealand is totally atypical and you weren’t meant to be a rugby player…
Alex Tolou: In force. I went to the police when I was 18. I didn’t want to be a rugby player, I wanted to be a profiler. While in police academy, I was drafted into the Wellington Lions, the province of hurricanes. This is where I started playing rugby at a high level. I studied psychology and criminology. Nevertheless, it was my dream to become a profiler. But I finally decided to become a rugby player. I spent two years in Wellington and then moved to Taranaki. I played for the New Zealand team when I was 7, I was under contract to the NZRU, the federation, to get selected to the All Blacks. I then made a financial decision. I come from a middle-class family, that’s why I decided to go to France.
Before arriving at Bourgoin, you were contacted by other French clubs. Is that right?
AT: Yes. First it was Montauban. I signed there in 2009 and when I got there it was all downhill. I watched the last game in the top 14 between Montauban and Bayonne (22-8 win). This match should keep Montauban in the top 14. we were happy The next day, the club announced that they were being relegated to Federal 1 because they no longer had the financial means. After that I looked for another club. I spent a week at Section Paloise in Pro D2 and then at Brive where I did all the testing. But in the end they asked me if I could play in the middle as a substitute for Riki Flutey. So I said no, I was a bit upset (laughs). It wasn’t my contribution.
How did you come to Bourgoin?
AT: A friend of mine called me right after the Brive episode. He acted in Bourgoin. His name is Tone Kopelaini (whore). He played with me in Wellington. He said to me: “Yeah, come to my club, it’s good, we’re having fun, it’s a great club, we’re having fun.” Except I didn’t take into account when he called me. I didn’t realize that he called me at 11:30 p.m. in the evening and that he was drunk… When I went there I didn’t see him right away, but I made the decision to play in Bourgoin and therefore stay in the Top 14. So I signed and when I saw him he said to me, ‘Oh damn I’m sorry, we’re actually losing all the games and I think we’re going down… I was drunk when I told you that. ‘ (Laughs). But I signed too late. Despite everything, I saw that it was a great club with a lot of very good players, which was overtaken by France. I felt comfortable there for four months.
You didn’t finish the 2011 season at Bourgoin because you signed for Montpellier, a club you ended up staying at for five years…
AT: After a Bourgoin-Montpellier game, when I was playing with the CSBJ, Fabien Galthié (then MHR coach) came up to me and said: “You’re coming to Montpellier with me!”. Here I made my decision. Two days later I was in Montpellier, it went quickly. I stayed there for five years. I had signed for three more years, but it was complicated with Jake White. When he arrived I had to leave. I didn’t go alone. I was very good there and I spent incredible moments.
Her relationship with Montpellier therefore ended badly. Then Castres will come to pick you up.
AT: Christophe Urios, Frédéric Charrier and Joe El Abd, who had just taken over the management of Castres, picked me up in Montpellier. We talked and they wanted me to come. I signed there for five years and we were champions in 2018. I was supposed to stay there a little longer too, but I decided to leave because I had complications.
In Lyon I apologized to the players. I didn’t have depression, but I did have a mental block…
Tell us about your visit to Lyon.
AT: I went to Lyon where Pierre Mignoni called me. I played there for a year. Aside from starting to lose my flame a bit… Mentally I wasn’t doing very well, I didn’t really want to leave Castres at the base. When I was at Lyon I didn’t really reach my best level because it wasn’t in my head. I apologized to the players because I wanted and could have done more. Sometimes we have a bad time even on this level. I don’t make excuses, but I wasn’t at the level in Lyon. I was disappointed. To succeed in everything for this club, but psychologically I wasn’t there. I wasn’t depressed, but I really had a mental block. I left the club and joined the national team after Dax to do my coaching diploma and become a player-coach in the first season.
Has a certain player ever impressed you?
AT: I’ve never seen a player like Josua Tuisova. I’ve played with and against him. He and I had a “gentleman’s agreement” (a kind of moral contract between men). That means if you’re playing against good friends, don’t go 100%. This is often the case among islanders. It’s our culture. He impressed me so much… He’s a beast, a force of nature. There are a lot of guys with that profile on the islands, but I’ve never seen anyone like him. It’s concrete! You should know that he is a guy who does not speak, who is very discreet. When he talks to you, he loves you. In the end we talked a lot.
I smashed the next guy training with the Hurricanes, but I took it slow with Victor Vito. One day the trainer called us into his office!
What was your best moment in your entire career?
AT: I think that was when I scored three tries against Jake White’s Montpellier with Castres in 2015. Why ? Because with my wife we hoped for a long time to have a child, but we couldn’t. We changed doctors several times and then we found a good gynecologist in Montpellier who followed us and helped us. On the day of the game, in the morning, I was at a bench meeting and he called me, “Glad we made it! “. I say to myself, but what is he talking about? And he told me that my wife Kyla was pregnant. There I didn’t even come back to the meeting (laughs). I took the car and drove home. I called my wife , we were very touched. In the afternoon I came back with the group. We were supposed to play at 9 p.m. I had a lot of emotions and that motivated me even more.
Can you tell us the funniest anecdote of your career?
AT: The anecdote when I arrived in Bourgoin was not bad! (laughs). There is another. We are very good friends with Victor Vito. We played together in the Hurricanes, but we didn’t grow very fond of each other in training… And that was what the coach at the time, Jamie Joseph, noticed! He had seen me smash the guy next door, but when Victor was in front I did it slowly and vice versa. After practice, the coach called us into his office and said, “Do you think I’m stupid? You crush others, but when it is among you, you suffer or pretend. Stop that, you’re not friends on the court!” So we avoided each other, when he went one way, I went the other (laughs). At Ma’a Nonu, he stuck his finger in my nose, and I pulled his dreadlocks! We often did little foolish things…
How would you describe your relationship with France?
AT: France has become my home. When I’m in New Zealand I say I’m going home. And when I say that, I’m talking about France, not the other way around! Here we are really at home. I grew up here. I arrived at 22 and now I’m 35… After all, I have two chances to feel like world champions: both if New Zealand wins and if it’s the French team! (laughs)
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