first team / The return of Grégory Coupet

Coupet: a week’s work

Published on the 16 November 2007 à 16:30 by R.B

As per usual, it has been a week of flat-out work for Greg who is bringing his rehabilitation along at break-neck speed…

We left Grégory on Friday afternoon. He was set to have a weekend’s rest with his family before spending Sunday night with his team-mates watching the match against OM. “They’re doing a great job. They just need to be tougher at home.”

On Monday November 12, he meets up with Sylvain, the physio, at 14:00. He’s reading Midol, the rugby fan’s newspaper. “I love this sport and the guys who play it…”. Grégory has already worked all morning outside the centre. The treatment room is deserted. The pro squad players not on international duty are making the most of 60 hours off. He has a Body Fat Index test before his thighs and calves are measured, along with his leg flexes and extensions. Everything is noted and compared. Some areas are still lacking, which is to be expected. But there is progress on every front. “You see, in the beginning, I couldn’t bend the leg. The most impressive thing? When I saw my left leg a few weeks after the operation. The knee was bigger than the thigh and the calf. This weekend, I stretched my thigh and put ointment on the scar.”

The torture starts with Sylvain. His face twists, the muscles stretch, sweat covers his body, the table creaks. Two people working towards the same objective. “You can’t progress if there is no understanding between the two of us. Sylvain knows exactly what I’m feeling by looking at me.” The goal is to achieve a 130° flex by the end of the week. Greg has 10° to go. So close yet so far.

Between tortures, the native of Puy asks after Patrick Müller, who played with the CFA. “It must be tough for him to have to do that. You can imagine the fears he has. As soon as I started exercising again, I stopped being scared. Sure, I’m don’t have the power I need yet. At the same time, my dives a re weak. I have to keep working…”.

[IMG42620#R]Tuesday November 13, he goes out onto the synthetic pitch, accompanied by young squad-mates Mounier and Paillot, and they do some educational running exercises under the competent gaze of Guillaume Tora (Toto). They enjoy it but take it seriously despite the uninviting nature of the task. It’s not the international keeper in action, it’s a very high-level athlete. He nails every move whereas the youngsters often have trouble getting it right. In the breaks, he jokes with his companions, lightening the mood. “It’s normal, these exercises are like dance steps you’ve never learnt…”. Time for the showers. No. A pressing desire to work with the ball takes him. “Moune, you want to kick a few?” So it starts – a half hour session on the pitch next to the synthetic surface. Just passing. As they work with the item of their affection, Greg seems the younger, the crazier and the happier.

The next morning, the weather is grey and bleak. Alone with Toto. Once again his hip is often called into action. The pain is evident. He has to slow to a walk to make certain moves. “This is all normal. Some parts of my body just aren’t used to it any more…”. Next to him, a bunch of “old men” play football-tennis. It would be a joy to join Bernard Lacombe, Robert Valette, Georges Prost, Patrick Paillot, Gérard Bonneau and Joël Fréchet! Tomorrow… will be another day.

On Thursday morning he works outside the centre and then in the afternoon he hits the gym with Toto. The equipment is all sitting idle. Only Gilles Rousset will come to work out on them a bit later on. The silence is lugubrious, as is the lack of natural light from outside. Outside, the weather is gloomy and the temperature is close to zero. At least it’s warm inside. He starts with the bike, saying, “For 2 months all I saw were these walls. I’d had it up to here. You put your headphones on and you set your goals. When you start working outside again, you appreciate it. I work hard for 4 or 5 hours a day. Fortunately you can measure your progress with the cybex and other instruments… In the evenings, I’m a wreck, but that means I really appreciate the weekends. I’m with my family. I’ll go and see LOU (Rugby team Lyon Olympique Universitaire) play… also, I watch my wife play volleyball… and there are the kids. They are great moments.”

[IMG42621#L]Various exercises for half an hour. And always this quality in every gesture. Such coordination! What drive to better himself! “After my career, I’ll definitely keep playing sport. I’d like to play rugby, but that could be dangerous for my knee…”. His return? He’s talking about it, for sure, but there’s no question of doing it until he’s sure he’s ready. “And that means I have to be 100% fit in every department.” The ball sits idle in a corner. But he’ll be back in goals soon, practicing with Jo Bats who was also nursing a sore knee at the beginning of the week.