"The game today is very different to when we played it. Now the players are managed by their agents, date 18 year olds and are enclosed in their cocoons. Everything which makes a man such as managing money, buying a house, finding a job, is now handled by their agent. We would play and then work, and the two were intertwined, learning from each other, but they weren’t one of the same thing, like they are now. There are no stories anymore, and their girlfriends and wives follow them around. In our today, the women never came to watch and party with us. It was for blokes only so we could drink, party, fight and get up to lots of mischief!"
Alain is a great mate of Laurent Rodriguez so I managed to track him down via Lolo. He ignored my messages a few times but eventually called me back once he realised that I wasn’t a random bloke trying to coax him into a dodgy investment scheme. We met in Belley in the Alps and he took me to his house nearby, a beautifully positioned bucolic residence in the foothills of the Alps. We spent hours talking and drinking some of his lovely wines, notably a 2006 and 2009 Comtes de Champagne from Tattinger where he has worked for 30 years. He described this as the Montrachet of Champagne, which we devoured alongside some saucisson and truffle-flavoured crisps – only in France! Alain was a modern day rugby player, big and athletic, but has all the Corinthian values of the amateur era. He gave me about 10 hours of his time telling me about his upbringing and background, his former team mates, the partying, brawling and epicurean life style. He was a wonderful host.
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