The coach of the two victories in 2007: “I adapted to what was there, without imposing an external method. Now you are playing above your limits, wasting energy and exposing yourself too much. The talents of the under 20 go to French and English clubs “
& commat; slam
The field and the desk have not seen them for a while, precisely since he left his position as general manager of Bayonne in 2018. His voice and his opinion, however, are among the most sought after. At 63, Pierre Berbizier remains a reference for rugby, in France and beyond, both for what he has done as a player and as a coach, and for the lucidity and frankness of his way of seeing. Scrum-half trained in Lannemezan and protagonist at the highest level between Lourdes and Agen – a national title in 1988 – boasts 56 caps for France from number 9. He was coach of the Bleus from 1991 until the infamous 1995 World Cup, with France defeated by South Africa in a semi-final played in a context never fully understood and digested, if it is true that in 2011, at the release of the film “Invictus”, he himself branded as “ridiculous” the celebration of an event – that of Springboks champions – which he saw as “the biggest scam in the history of sport”, in a World Cup in which “the political dimension had prevailed over the sporting one”. Pierre Berbizier, however, was also the coach of one of the best national teams seen at the Six Nations. In office between 2005 and 2007, he was much more than a point of conjunction between the Kirwan who launched the various Parisse, Bortolami and Castrogiovanni and the Mallett who lived the period of maximum popularity of rugby in our country. Under his leadership, in the 2007 Six Nations Italy achieved two victories – the historic one of three tries over three interceptions in Scotland and the one at home against Wales – a feat that could only be achieved by Brunel in 2013. Italy by Berbizier was the one who, despite the tensions, came close to the quarterfinals at the 2007 World Cup, up to the infamous 18-16 suffered by Scotland in St. Etienne and that wrong football by David Bortolussi that, perhaps, could have changed the history of the Italian rugby.
Welcome back Messieur Berbizier. What are you doing today?
“Not much in the rugby world. I am in contact with Canal + as a consultant, France 3 dedicated a service to me a few days ago, I am not lacking in contacts with the media, I am solicited, I watch the games”.
“I have been out for a few years. I refused the agent system and therefore it is difficult for me to enter it. I think they are the only element that does not participate economically in the system, they take a lot and give nothing. In France 15% of rugby players are unemployed. , is double compared to the general employment figures. What do you do for them? It’s something that scares me. I was not a professional, but rugby allowed me to raise my social level and above all it started from ‘ idea that no one was left behind. Professionalism brought easy money for many, but now we have 15% unemployed. Such an environment no longer matches my background. This is my personal battle, it may be that if I had forty years I would think differently, perhaps I would compromise, but today I don’t want to have anything to do with this system “.
Let’s go back to the camp. Italy comes from 35 losses in a row in the Six Nations, his national team in 2007 won two games and made the public discover this sport. But 2007 rugby can’t be compared to today’s rugby, can it?
“But I think so. The difference is that back then with me in the national team there were several athletes who played in the clubs of France and England, and perhaps this is the solution that Italy should adopt even today. The various Lo Cicero, Festuccia, Dellapé, Parisse, Masi, Mauro and Mirco Bergamasco actually lived the high level abroad. Today in Italy you have two teams playing the former Celtic league, Treviso and Zebre. level to your youngsters, Italian rugby inevitably cannot be competitive “.
Are you referring to young people under 20?
“Yes. I believe that today in Italy there is a good talent training system. The under 20s have beaten England, the team is good. Access to the next level is difficult, however. The league is weak, Treviso. and Zebras have many foreigners and they are not enough to give these young people the opportunity to continue to improve, to work on points of reference “.
How did he manage a national team with so many athletes abroad?
“The contact with the players was constant, with many of them we still feel. I had made an analysis on the characteristics of the players and the group, on the strengths and weaknesses and based on this I had developed a method. shared approach, which I defended at all costs. If, on the other hand, you come with your own model and you want to impose it regardless of the players you have, then things become difficult. I think this is the case in Italy today. ”
“That Italy does not train like France. You have to know the strengths and weaknesses to build a game that you can afford, with goals to achieve. You have to adapt to the qualities of your players. You cannot take the method of All Blacks and with that coaching Italy “.
Do you think Kieran Crowley is doing this?
“I’m not in his head, but seeing Italy-New Zealand in November I had the impression that he wanted to play like them. In my opinion you can’t do it. Long game sequences, even seven or eight phases, too much energy wasted for poor actions effectiveness that often ended up offering the flank to the counterattacks of the opponents. And then in that match Italy could be ahead at half time: there were free-kicks that could be placed in favor, it was decided to go into touch. is that Italy wants to play a game beyond its limits, of the means it has at the moment. Maybe one day it will be able to do it, but now it exposes itself too much and every time it pays a very high price. It is always the same scenario that is repeats “.
“I think we need to concentrate our energies. Italy is very present in the fight, in the conquest. In terms of involving these guys, nothing can be reproached. But they must play according to their means, to the qualities of this moment”.
Is the eventual exit of Italy from the Six Nations a theme in France?
“In my opinion we want Italy to stay, but we need to help them. We need to welcome the players into our league and allow them to grow. The national team needs its athletes to play abroad.”
Perhaps compared to 15 years ago this mechanism is more difficult. Sometimes there is the impression that some clubs are pressing for players not to go to the national team. Tommy Allan would suit Italy, but he prefers to stay at the Harlequins.
“I don’t know about this situation, but I think there is a problem with some agents promising this kind of thing to clubs when they have their players signed contracts. It is necessary that the athletes can play for their national team, otherwise there is something that it does not work”.
March 2, 2022 (change March 2, 2022 | 17:13)
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