Paris (AFP)

"One of the values ​​of rugby is solidarity": since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Top 14 has mobilized to help the sick and carers, in particular by organizing prize pools for hospitals.

Solidarity acts have also emerged in other sports, such as the many donations made by footballers and basketball players. The Top 14 is facing the pandemic, more than half of the elite clubs having launched solidarity initiatives.

La Rochelle hooker Jean-Charles Orioli was one of the first to get his hands dirty. On March 17, the day after Emmanuel Macron's televised message limiting travel by French people, the 30-year-old offered his services on Twitter: "If you have isolated families on the Ile de Ré and who need to go shopping or help ... Let’s stay at home but also show solidarity! "he said.

Orioli and his teammates then launched a kitty to support the La Rochelle hospital center. The idea is simple: the public makes a donation to participate in a draw and hope to win one of the jerseys offered by players from the Maritimes. Winger Arthur Retière offered the jersey he wore during the final of the European Challenge last year against Clermont (defeat 36-16).

The winger Vincent Rattez, he put into play that of the quarter-final of the World Cup of Blues against Wales. The pillar Dany Priso, the scrum half Alexi Bales and the opener Jules Plisson followed suit and the prize pool has now reached more than 30,000 euros and nearly 1,500 participants.

"Usually, they support us at the stadium. Today, it's us," Orioli told RMC.

- More than 45,000 euros for Toulouse -

The Rochelais are not the only ones to have mobilized: the UBB has also launched its solidarity kitty to "support the nursing staff of the CHU Pellegrin in Bordeaux", explains the leader of the championship. In play, jerseys by Nans Ducuing, Jefferston Poirot, Semi Radradra, Jean-Baptiste Dubié or Santiago Cordero, all signed, as well as balls and training tunics.

Same story on the side of the champions of France in Toulouse, whose prize pool has already raised more than 45,000 euros seven days before the draw. "As a good captain, Julien Marchand offered us to open a kitty. Everything is done on a voluntary basis, we will be a good dozen to offer our jerseys. Some will be super interesting! The objective is to be the most attractive possible ", says the pillar the pillar Clément Castets in the columns of La Dépêche du Midi.

"One of the values ​​of rugby is solidarity. Everyone can participate and help hospitals", continues Castets, a student in a podiatry school, who was also requisitioned by the Toulouse University Hospital to come alongside carers and help them in their mission.

On the same model, Toulon, Castres, Clermont, Agen or Oyonnax, Pro D2 club, have launched their own kitty. The French stadium too, which organized the "Solidarity Pass" for the benefit of the AP-HP Foundation, submerged due to the coronavirus pandemic. First declared objective: to collect 30,000 euros. To attract donors, the Paris club put into play ten jerseys signed by the whole team but also the crampons of Jonathan Danty, a jersey worn by Laurent Sempéré during the final of the Top 14 2015 or a match jersey by Kylan Hamdaoui ...

On Thursday, the French Stadium even launched an internal solidarity kitty to "support club employees and people most affected by the crisis and the partial unemployment measures". Values.

© 2020 AFP