It is not always good to recross its former conquests. Especially when, initially, they seem to have done better after your separation. At 29, Gaël Fickou knows it. “Coincidence or not, each time I left a club, it was very successful the following year. While, personally, my track record remained hopelessly blank, “ relates the center of the XV of France in a work, published at the beginning of May, which plunges behind the armor (with Maxime Raulin, L’Equipe/Solar, 272 pages) of the colossus of Seyne-sur-Mer (Var).
If, in 2012, Toulon had largely begun its prosperous period – crowned with three consecutive European Cups in 2013, 2014 and 2015 – when the young Gaël Fickou, 18 years old then, chose to leave the harbor for the banks of the Garonne ; Stade Toulousain won its 20e Brennus shield at the end of the season following his departure to Paris (in 2018). “Well, it stopped when I left the Stade Françaissays the player. It’s behind me now. »
Gaël Fickou – with his partners from Racing 92 – faces, on Friday June 9, one of his former clubs, Toulouse, for a place in the final of the Top 14. In this last relocated square, the time of a weekend, in Anoeta, the Spanish Basque lair of Real Sociedad, the Saint-Sébastien football club, Gaël Fickou the traveler will aim to propel the team from the Paris region to the final of the French championship.
In the previous round, during the fratricidal Ile-de-France barrage, it was another of his “ex” that the captain of the defense of the XV of France – since the appointment of Fabien Galthié and Shaun Edwards to corner the blue defense – crossed paths. From a try against at the end of the game, the Sky and White center delivered Racing 92 and sent Stade Français on vacation (33-20).
But do not go looking for the veteran of the Blues (79 caps) a surplus of motivation at the idea of making his former clubs bite the dust. “I don’t see the point of envying or trying to compare myself to others, exposes the captain of Racing, met in May following the release of his autobiography. Fate has an important part for me, and I have made my choices and do not regret any of them. When I left [de Toulouse] and they won, I was happy for them. Since it wasn’t me who won, might as well be my friends. » Especially since, since 2022, the Frenchman has finally lifted the first trophy of his career – the grand slam in the Six Nations Tournament with the Blues.
A “lover” of Paris
Gaël Fickou is on the move. Met in the 16e district of Paris which has become, since 2018, his district, the center of the France team recognizes that, for someone of his temperament, finding himself in the capital sounded obvious. “When I left Toulon for Toulouse, I was already attracted to Paris, but it seemed inaccessible to me”, exposes the player. For a kid from the Berthe de la Seyne-sur-Mer estate – where, for him, “until the age of 13, rugby hardly existed” – the idea of leaving the South for Paris evoked a vast world. “But after four or five years in Toulouse, I felt the desire to get to know the capital. It was clear to me: this was where I wanted to be. »
And for good reason. On the banks of the Seine, Gaël Fickou satisfies his desires for rugby – first at the Stade Français, then at Racing 92 since 2021 – but he also broadens his horizons, in particular artistically. “In Paris, you can do whatever you want: at the concert, at the theater, there are some of the best restaurants in the world, museums and unique monuments… Its diversity is incredible”continues this jack-of-all-trades, ” lover “ assumed from Paris. “I wouldn’t be able to go to a city where I’m not well, and play rugby”, assures the person concerned – taking care not to cite cities. Where other athletes manage to flourish solely thanks to the sports project of their club, regardless of its locality, Gaël Fickou assumes that he wants more: “I’m so fulfilled in my personal life, it’s not just rugby, it’s a whole. »
In Anoeta, the one who “lived only by football” younger, to the point of considering a career there before falling into the cauldron of rugby – attracted in particular by ” contacts “ of this sport – should not be out of place. When it is not transformed, for a weekend, into the relocated capital of French rugby, the enclosure of the city of San Sebastián is home to Real Sociedad, Basque member of the Spanish Liga.
Faced with his former partners in the Pink City – with whom he rubs shoulders with a certain number in Blues –, Gaël Fickou knows that his team will not be favored by the forecasts. “The Toulousains will be ultra-favorites, it’s a very strong, very powerful, very complete team.he observed at the end of the victorious barrage against Stade Français. We have nothing to lose, we will prepare as well as possible and try a gamble. » But even in the event of qualification for the final, he will not have the opportunity to complete the trilogy of his elders, Toulon not having qualified for the final stages.