Double French champion with Castres, Rory Kockott will be celebrated tomorrow, during the match against MHR. The opportunity for him to retrace his eleven seasons as a CO.
You may see a lot of things flowing tomorrow. But what is your earliest memory of Castres?
If you want to start with that, we’ll laugh. I arrived on a Friday in July (in 2011). Full summer, few people in town. My agent takes me to my apartment. I go inside and there was nothing! Not even a fork! There I tell myself that I may have made the wrong choice (smile). I go out, already to try to understand my fear, the feeling of being humiliated because, not speaking the language yet, you cannot ask for anything. In short, I go to the Monoprix and buy two pots, which I still have today! With, during the first weekend, I cooked pasta, simple. Finally, the best time was Tuesday of the first week of training. The catering made us eat at the club.
Sign as Thierry Lacrampe’s jolly doctor. Did you ever intend to stay?
Yes, I wanted it at all costs. Then Laurent Labit (then CO coach with Laurent Travers) offered me an extension, with a contract that allowed me to settle down and be involved in my work.
From there to stay so long?
I am often asked this question, but how do you get the answer? In a moment of your career, you can understand it. If you are building a foundation that allows for growth, then you say yes. But if it doesn’t, you say no. After looking back, of course, it’s easier to answer.
“This summer of 2012 was a time during which I really transformed my mood and my physical condition. “
You left the Durban Sharks to come to Castres. What made you make the leap?
In 2010 Bayonne offered me a contract. I declined because I thought I would play longer in South Africa. A year later, Lyon showed up. Instead they took Enrico Januarie in my place. My agent, former pillar of Castres and Clermont, strongly advised me to come to the CO because it is a club with an exceptional reputation in relation to its simplicity and its values, beyond the professional aspect.
In 2012-2013 your season is more than positive (voted best player in the Top 14, best director with 376 points and “golden talent” in the final, ed). Is this, in your opinion, the best of Rory Kockott we saw that year?
Yes. During the off season, in South Africa, I invested a lot in my personal training. My first year here (2011-2012), I didn’t play much in the play-offs (against Montpellier, 31-15, 15 minutes) and in the first half against Toulouse (15-24, 23 minutes). It made me even hungrier. I knew I could pass that level I had seen. So this summer 2012 was a time where I really transformed my mood and my physical condition, in order to create a kind of advantage over other players and teams. And also to lay the foundations to launch my career as a professional sportsman.
Your coaches, Laurent Travers and Laurent Labit, also played a key role.
They have been very patient with me. Giving myself every day and week possible to visit my family in South Africa. I had this opportunity to regenerate when I returned. It allowed me to perform every weekend.
The following season, there is this interrupted transfer to Toulon. Why did you stay here?
As the two Laurents were leaving, I initially wanted to leave at the same time, leaving my last year on the contract. It was a difficult personal decision, made easy by the club and Mr. Revol (Pierre-Yves Revol, CO chairman), who showed me human values towards their intentions, and mine, since I wanted a relationship. deeper, different from sport. And then the quality of life here in Castres also played a role.
You have this grumbling image with the referees.
It was founded after the departure of Christophe Urios (2019). I find that from there, we sinned, in the relationship with the discipline and the referees, collectively. We never approached this type of subject as a team, we didn’t have the supervision we needed and it went too quickly in all directions. Maybe I had this image because, due to my position, I am more exposed.
In addition to the titles (2013 and 2018), do you remember any other episodes?
It’s hard, there have been so many for 11 years. Above all, I will keep my personal life, having this possibility, with my family, to live in another country, a new culture. And we will continue to live it. It trains you, it teaches you other things than if you hadn’t left the house.
You have always remained discreet about your private life.
My three daughters were born in Castres. I’m still the king. If you have a son, you are no longer the king, he becomes the king (laughs). In my eyes, the most important thing is to have conditions under which my children grow up on the right path.
After the victory in Toulon last year (22-10), you said, after the excellent performance, that for you there was no trust. So what was Rory Kockott’s fuel for 11 years?
(smiles) Faith and hope. Without faith, how can you believe in yourself? I am not able to do much. But thanks to the God I believe in, the impossible becomes possible. But this faith and this hope must be present in your daily life. You must have the trace of these two elements in your mood, in your heart, in your bowels.
Your adventure in Castres is also a crucial seven years with Benjamin Urdapilleta. Has this association marked you?
Of course. We often hear people say: “It’s just professionalism, sport, rugby. But beyond that, the human side is real. For me it is essential. In the way of knowing each other, of connecting. We are all strange in our own way, imperfect. The interest is there, how to build around all this and create strong bonds. Well, we fought too! But when you get married, it is impossible not to go through this. Arguing is one thing, understanding each other is another.
LIV Village, a foundation dear to Kockott
Created in 1997 by Tich Smith, a South African lawyer, this association works with orphans or abused children in South Africa. Through its five LIV Villages, the association helps thousands of children socially and academically. “In every house in these villages there are mothers, sometimes fathers, who take care of the little ones as if they were their own children. This gives them a framework in which to grow, a future “, explains Kockott, engaged in LIV. The shirts will be on sale from Saturday at the stadium,” and for a few weeks “, and the shirts of the French team worn by Kockott (11 sel. ), or his 2018 French champion jersey, subsequently put up for sale at auction. All funds raised will be donated to the LIV Village.