Terry Bouhraoua started playing professional rugby at Stade Français in 2006 and joined Béziers in 2010, but it was a phonecall from France sevens coach Frederic Pomarel a year later that would change his career and life.
Pomarel wanted to talk about the country’s ‘Olympic project’, and the diminutive playmaker can now look back on that journey with fondness. Bouhraoua spoke with worldugby.org after captaining France to Olympic qualification in the Rugby Europe Grand Prix series.
Winning qualification for the Olympics still feels a little surreal, but now is time to enjoy what we’ve achieved and relax a little because we’ve been building towards this moment for five years.
Everyone raised their game in Exeter and we arrived on the crest of a wave but also wary, and we did what we needed to do against good teams. We can now go away and have a break in the knowledge that we’ve reached our goal.
For my part, I feel like I’ve done what I was brought in to do and I think I’ll be able to really enjoy that 10 years from now.
Being asked if I wanted to join the France sevens team in 2010 and try to reach the Olympic Games was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. Personally, playing at the Olympics was a huge incentive and then as a team to write our own little bit of French rugby history was a big thing, the start of a new chapter in the sport.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had my doubts in the course of those five years, but in the end you need to show your character, work hard and believe.
The only slight regret we have at the moment is that the coverage and popularity of rugby sevens cannot grow a little quicker in France. It’s come a long way in five years but there’s still a way to go and there’s a new generation of player that needs to come through. I think that sevens can grow as the landscape of rugby in France evolves to give more time and space to sevens and allow people to understand the game, its tactical nuances and physical demands.
Qualifying for Rio was crucial in that regard because if we hadn’t qualified I think it would have stifled that evolution and for that reason we’ve done something very important.
People need to be able to dream and the Olympic Games definitely allows you to do that, because once you’re in a sevens tournament, anything is possible.
Bouhraoua now has the added incentive of a home round on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, after it was announced that Paris has joined the global tour from 2015-16.