Serge Collinet, the man who taught rugby in the city and trained the Blues

It is a small corner of concrete, nestled in the heart of the cities and overlooked by the towers of the 13th arrondissement of Paris. There, between the walls of Georges-Braque college, a little lost kids have found their way by crossing that of an oval ball with surprising rebounds. A few have even become champions. They owe it to a man. Serge Collinet, associate professor of physical education and rugby coach, discovered the place twenty-six years ago.

For the young teacher, arrived from Meaux (Seine-et-Marne), the first contacts in this college where he made his ranges close to the Charléty stadium, are as many shocks. “It was very weird,” he says. A third of the students came from the 14th arrondissement, and the others came from very difficult cities. It was a cut throat. Non-stop wars, insults between communities. The fathers were gone or absent, the older brothers were playing an unhealthy role. I didn’t want to stay. “

“Very quickly, I felt that something was happening”

Serge Collinet nevertheless tries an experiment: to introduce rugby, to use it as a means of education. “From 6th to 3rd, I suggested that the students discover this sport,” he adds. At first there were not many. But very quickly, I sensed that something was happening. To be together, to fight together, to be obliged to rely on others, to be nothing without them, solidarity, loyalty… They liked all the values ​​conveyed by rugby. And I took a liking to these kids. “

The section is growing. It goes from twenty to one hundred and thirty elements. From then on, in middle school, one in two boys played rugby. Wesley Fofana and Vincent Rattez, the two internationals of the XV of France, cut their teeth there and forge their best memories. “In the courtyard, over time, there were no more fights, wars, but a kind of brotherhood,” says Collinet. Little by little, the little wild cats were taming themselves. One day, a rector asked me what my goals were. I told him I just wanted to make them men. “

The educator, who recounts this adventure in a novel published this summer (“Rugby au cœur, les Braqueboys” published by Passiflore), refused many job offers before joining the faculty of Nanterre this season to train teachers and coaches. “Grassroots rugby is an incomparable vector for integrating into life,” he emphasizes. There, we are very far from the high level or from the decisions of the institutions. What people see on TV is not what eight or ten year olds do. It is essential to reassure parents and protect young people. One day, one of my students told me he loved rugby but didn’t want to die. That is not possible. The danger must not exist on the ground. This must be taken care of because these adolescents risk a lot if they stay at home idle, sedentary, without landmarks. “

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