Lili Auriat 07:00, September 22, 2023

When you imagine the physical preparation before a Rugby World Cup, you imagine sweat and heavyweights. But, as Fabien Pelous tells us in the podcast "Les Géants du rugby", in 2007, the Blues of the time also take advantage of these moments to meet and forge links off the field. In the center of Marcoussis, in the Paris region, everything is done so that French players can then combine effort and comfort.

The year is 2007. For the World Cup, which is taking place for the first time in France, the preparation of the players takes place at the Marcoussis training center, in the Paris region. This center covers 42 hectares and players find everything they need. Enough to train, but also to have a good time during this month of preparation... This is in any case the memory that Fabien Pelous kept, and that he tells in the podcast "The Giants of rugby".

Located on the edge of a forest and a pond, this small village includes multiple fields and weight rooms, conference rooms, a restaurant, a swimming pool, a hammam, a sauna or a jacuzzi ... Fabien Pelous remembers a Marcoussis, under the sun for once, where players do not have "the impression of living in a bunker". They enjoy this group life, this cocoon that protects them from the external craze, leaving them to focus on sport.

Objective: create a group, a family

For Fabien Pelous, this group life is essential: "It seems trivial, but it's important. We live together for a month and a half of preparation, we can't be 100% focused on rugby." The Blues thus find themselves in the jersey of the France team and forget their club of belonging and the rivalries that oppose them to forge new links. Playstation, board games or fishing, the Blues gather around their hobby.

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The atmosphere is good: "When you arrive in the France team, the rivalries fade. There is on one side the club, and on the other the team of France, it's like the relationship you can have between your father and your mother," said Pelous. The center has the appearance of a boarding school: the players share their room and gently trap each other. Traps that the winger Christophe Dominici, in particular, has paid the price.

The "carp bath"

After a long day of training, what could be better than a good bath to relax? This is also what the French winger thought before discovering large carps in the bathtub of his room. The smells made him want the bubble bath ... "Domi was a little phobic fish, he took a long time to put them back in the water," says Fabien Pelous, in the podcast "The Giants of rugby".

The investigation to find the culprit was faster. With only two fishermen in the XV of France, Dominici quickly goes up the trail of Julien Bonnaire. We don't know if there was a revenge... It is these anecdotes that punctuate Fabien Pelous' account of his 2007 World Cup, in "Les Géants du rugby", an original podcast produced by Europe 1 Studio, to be found on all listening platforms.

> Listen to Fabien Pelous' story in full by clicking here