Jean Luc Joinel

Brive’s Braveheart

"There were some huge fights back in the day. I remember one in particular when Brives played Narbonne. Narbonne kept targeting our Australian second row, Peter FitzSimons, so in the end, we just bought the ball down and had a big fight on the athletics track, 15 Vs 15. Rossignol who played in the second row would warn offending opposition players to ‘stop that, or you won’t feel anything’ before he laid them out. You could get away with it way back then, and still be mates afterwards, well most of the time!"

Jean-Luc Joinel’s elegant sounding name rolls off the tongue mellifluously. He was ever present in the side between 1977 and 1986, and I knew travelling all the way to Brive in the Corrèze would be worth it. I drove across the Massif Central from the French Alps, through and over the icy mountains and under the pouring snow around Tulle before I arrived in Brive, a small, chic town tucked away in the south west. However, like an Englishman who never travels outside of his small island, I was late meeting him, my laptop having failed to show the French time that was one hour ahead! I dashed downstairs where we met at the hotel bar before heading to dinner. He didn’t disappoint. We had a wonderful dinner laughing and reminiscing, with Jean Luc impersonating various players.

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