May 2010. On the roadside, a 1,86m-tall, 100 kg, badly-shaven man with dark hair and an impressive torso, has set up a small stall as part of the local yard sale in the fourteenth arrondissement in Paris. He's selling his Stade Français rugby shirts, his tracksuits, his branded shoes... Raphaël Poulain, an ex-rugbyman for over two years now, is on unemployment benefits; a few months ago, he was almost on the streets.
Discovered at barely 19 years old and knowing almost nothing about Rugby, Raphael Poulain's extraordinary physique set him out from the crowd – enough to convince the French Stadium's coach, and from one day to the next he found himself in the best club of the capital, with a comfortable salary, a studio flat, a cabriolet, and an open invitation to all the hip bars in Paris.
In just a few months, Raphael became a rising hope for French rugby.
Step by step he tells the story of his career: the shared emotions of the changing rooms and the playing field, the great sporting moments, the repeated injuries and getting into trouble, his mates, the famous "third half-times", the coaches who liked him... and those who didn't. He describes with devastating humour his (many) silly mistakes, and gives a tender but uncompromising view of a world that, in just a few years, went from "village rugby" to sport-business, with its sponsors and publicity storms.
Today, he remembers the small child who dreamed of becoming Superman and thought himself indestructible. It cost him his body and his heart to find out that he wasn't... In his candid and disarming account, Poulain captures the beauty of sport and its solitude, its exhilaration and its dangers.
A book to share with all those who dream of becoming the next Chabal or Zidane... and with their parents.