“Charles Ollivon, immense and solid like the Rhune”

Charles Ollivon at the National Rugby Center in Marcoussis (Essonne), August 4, 2023.

Aristide Barraud, 34, is a former rugby player. Fly half, trained at RC My, ​​he notably played at the Stade français and in the French under-20 team. Wounded by bullet during the attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris, he was forced to end his career at the age of 26. He has since devoted himself to writing, art and photography.

“Charles Ollivon is immense. I even had to get on a chair to photograph him. However, I’m not talking about his double meter minus one centimeter (he measures 1.99 m). Because size doesn’t interest me. Already, I have always been the smallest of my teams. Then I still give my sister two heads. And my sister remains the greatest person I know.

But in short, Ollivon is something else. It is a sensation, a feeling that he imposes without wanting to, without violence. Surely the effect given by those who return from far away. Who had to give up often, experience loss and pain. They say they’ve come a long way but kilometers are like height, they don’t count for anything. Because everything is played out inside, up close and on a daily basis. It’s a journey of every inch gained, of every refusal to give up. A faith in the future, in one’s own abilities.

Charles Ollivon experienced years of internal struggle, going through a series of struggles far from the field. In 2018, yet another shoulder injury left him in the stands for two years. He met around ten surgeons, none of whom took the risk of operating on him. Slowly, retirement at 25 came closer. With each new waiting room, with each month of doubt, the feeling of falling, ever lower.

“His peaceful gaze in the heart of combat”

If there is an advantage to falling, it is self-knowledge. The discovery of unknown areas which become bases of strength, confidence, stability once height is regained.

If there’s an advantage to height, it’s observation. Like on top of a mountain. Because by looking back, we can more easily contemplate the path we have traveled. His own mountain is called Rhune, a peak in the Basque Country where he grew up. When he was little, his father took him there, the last kilometer was a race. Up there as a reward for endurance, there was the omelette from the mountain restaurant and the view of the region of which he is both an heir and the personification.

Because Charles Ollivon is as enduring as a shepherd, skillful as a pelotari and robust as a Basque champion of strength. But what impresses me the most about this player whom the trials have forged is his serenity, his confidence in victory which permeates those at his side. During the next matches, I invite you to observe his body language, his calm look in the heart of the fight.

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