Charles Ollivon, Objective Webb Ellis!
In the Ollivon family, in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (64), rugby is a family affair. “Before entering the juniors at the age of 5, I was already spending my weekends at the stadium watching my brother play. Then, every Saturday, we went to the rugby school together where my father was a coach. And on Sundays... we would go to see the first division play!”
Team spirit as a way of life
Growing up in a family of enthusiasts in a small village of 7,000 inhabitants was anything but incidental for the young Charles Ollivon. This life, which he describes as “simple and quiet”, between rugby and Basque pelota, surrounded by childhood friends, gave him a taste for solidarity and the desire to defend his colours without ever giving up.
“You’re effective on the field when you fight for your little country village and go beyond your limits for the friend next door. Camaraderie, mutual support and of course having fun are powerful motivators. These values have been essential for Charles Ollivon, both first at the national and then international levels.
Moreover, for him, team spirit is in the DNA of this collective sport,the condition sine qua non of victory. “Without a teammate giving their all in the scrum, I can’t free up the ball to score the try. All physiques are useful: you need strong, thin, small, fast players to win a match, and intelligence too because the higher the level, the more strategic the battle becomes. It is working as a team that counts most.
And then on the ground, the physical confrontation can be very hard, so it is essential to hold the line if you want to move forward. People feel our fear, our commitment, the trust that binds us to each other. This is why rugby is so exciting.”
When it comes to excitement, Charles Ollivon is certainly promising us some for next September. “We’re going to give everything we have out on the pitch. The pressure is mounting in France throughout our sport, above all because this is a cup that we’ve never won. But I don’t think of these expectations as a burden. In fact, it gives us the strength to work even harder daily and the energy to surpass ourselves when the kick-off whistle blows. We have never worked harder to make France one of the favourites of the competition. Now we’re all on top form, so we have to get the cup! I like challenges, I don’t come just to take part but to win! I dream of being in the final against South Africa, and taking the trophy from them…”
Charles Ollivon is not just a player, he is also a human being who has learned life’s lessons. “The various hardships that I had to overcome in 2019 changed my vision of rugby and life. Despite injuries and relapses—I almost couldn’t play internationally anymore— I fought and I ended up going to Japan where I had some unforgettable experiences, worthy of the difficulties encountered. I realised how lucky I was to do this as a job. Today, I am thinking less about what might be and more about being in the present moment. I will savour every moment of this World Cup, enjoy everything 200% as advised by my friend Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.”
Charles Ollivon - 6 dates
Born in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle, a town in the Basque Country bordering Spain.
After being trained at Saint-Pée UC then at the Nivelle league, he joined Aviron bayonnais. It was with this club that he made his Top 14 debut in 2013.
Following the relegation of the Basque club to Pro D2, Ollivon joined the Rugby Club Toulonnais.
Called up for the training camp for the autumn tour of the France team, he marked his first international trial against the Samoa team.
Back in blue after suffering a shoulder injury in 2017. He scores the second French try during the 2019 World Cup quarterfinal against Wales.
He was captain of the France XV for the first time during the 2020 Six Nations Tournament. With four tries, he was the top scorer of the tournament.
Victoire Chapellier is a copywriter.
Passionate about reading, she is also a part-time bookseller.