Interview Serge Simon
“ With Marcel Martin as iconic chairman of the UCPR we have managed to write in stone a great history . We’ve built a protection for the players .”
No need to introduce Serge Simon . Former ‘badboy’ from Bègles Dr Simon is now vice chairman of the FFR after chairing the rugby players’ union for eight years .The ex prop forward hasn’t forgotten all those great years with Provale and tells us about his four terms of office.
It’s 2000 and the National Union of Rugby Players is chaired by Jean-Marc Llermet in its second year of existence.He decides to step down for personal reasons and proposes to Serge Simon to take over. Serge who was always ‘assertive and had an opinion about everything’ recognizes that it was “logical and normal to become involved in the project.”
That’s the official version .Serge Simon gives us the factual version in an amusing telephone call he had with Jean-Marc Lhermet .
“Jean-Marc,after two years of loyal service called me to say that after being turned down by ten people to take over from him, he saw me as the last hope of continuing the union”
Like on the pitch , Serge accepted the challenge but before officially accepting to become chairman of the SNJR he made sure he had the support of the players .
“ I found that this organization only made sense if it were representative of the players .The SNJR was young and didn’t have any political or media coverage.Membership was important so I launched a campaign saying I would only accept the challenge if 50%of the players supported the SNJR. After a few weeks we attained more than this and so I took over.”
From 2000 to 2006 Serge Simon and the board fought on all fronts to secure a legitimate place for the French rugby union .
“ We had to fight hard at the start .We were lucky that the League was created at that time.The sector became professional but nothing was in writing. We found our place by becoming associated with the professionalism of our sport .The SNJR benefited from this rise in power”
In 2002 the SNJR became Provale giving it a further boost.
“ Like all organizations we had come through.Serge explains. We represented 70 to 75% of players and the new identity gave us a new dynamic”
On 29 March 2005 the National Collective Agreement for Professional Rugby was signed , an historic moment for all rugby players and for Serge himself.