Denis Charvet

Rugby’s 007

"I wrote my book, La mort debout, because somewhere deep inside me, I needed to exorcise my demons and move to the next phase of my life after I finished playing. People who say you can easily handle the end of a top sporting career are in denial. You know at some point your day will come and you will be replaced but you can’t really prepare for that feeling of loss. In a second, you become a former champion, and you no longer have the same look about yourself or self worth. For me, I found it very tough."

Denis was a player of eye-catching beauty, as a player and a man. First you noticed the square jaw, floppy hair and dark skin, looks that would have been well suited to the cat walk and James Bond movie. But there was far more to him than good looks. He was a supremely talented player with pace to burn and a magnificent swerve. Franck Mesnel describes him as a supreme finisher and Will Carling was always very wary of his searing pace and elusiveness. I will never forget one try in particular scored for Toulouse Vs Toulon in the 1989 French championship final. Receiving the ball from Didier Codorniou in his 22, he sliced elegantly through the gap and ran a breathtaking arc to the right hand corner of the Toulon try line. It was a moment of sporting beauty and, like Gareth Edward’s great Babas try of 1973, it gives me goose bumps every time I watch it.  I tracked him down via Serge Blanco and met him twice in Paris. He is a wonderfully engaging and warm man who has seen both the highs and lows in his career.

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