When Lionel Cortey-Dumont heard about the matches being organised in Bangalore, he was quick to search for a team, in July 2019. He was constantly urging his peers to join him to form a team. His search ended when Keshava Basappa, fellow Déjà Vu team member came across his email that was doing the rounds. Keshava quickly suggested adding Lionel to the team, to Déjà Vu captain Sushantika. Despite none of them having met each other, Lionel was the last piece of the newly formed, Déjà Vu puzzle – and he fit in perfectly!
The team was searching for practice grounds, Lionel quickly offered a football ground which his neighbours often used over weekends. Déjà Vu was a match made in heaven, as he found that the team was united, motivated to excel and reach goals consistently.
After the first few practice sessions, Lionel turned out to be dynamite on the field! Quick on his feet, fast as lightning and stealthy, his weekend football trainings were certainly paying-off on the rugby field! He had not played touch rugby before, and he patiently listened to lessons being handed out, and adapted quickly.
He was a crucial part of the win for team Déjà Vu as they battled it out through injuries on the field, in Bangalore. During the final match in Bangalore, Lionel gave in to his injuries as he lay down in pain on the ground, watching his team mates score tries from the boundaries of the field. But after the win was declared, he limped across the field to his team mates to join in the celebrations – team spirit was important to him and he ensured hi-fives on the field, after every try too!
In Hong Kong, at the tournament the values of rugby shone through in the way Lionel played rugby. He would tend to his opponents as they fell down, injured; always encouraged his team mates to go the extra mile; discussed strategies with patience; forged friendships with fellow rugby players and reminded team Déjà Vu of the team’s collective success.
After the first day of matches, and team Déjà Vu’s wins in all six matches, the team received a special mention by rugby legends Matt Giteau, Australian genius; Thomas Castaignède – one of the best French players in the ’90s symbolising the French Flair and Nicholas Hewson when they were asked about which team they think would win the matches in Hong Kong and why. The pressure was high, and Lionel didn’t sleep all night after this incredible moment, in Hong Kong.
Playing the touch rugby fundraising matches in Hong Kong will always remain one of the most memorable events for Lionel for several reasons – It was surprising how many of the Societe Generale staff members participated in Bangalore and Chennai for rugby matches. Despite the sport not being a popular one, it brought out some amazing performances on the field. This opportunity also helped Lionel reconnect with colleagues in Hong Kong and make new friends. It’s always a great experience to meet colleagues outside of the work environment – the event reinforced team spirit and employees’ sense of belonging to the Societe Generale Group.
Last but not the least, the opportunity to interact with rugby legends who took out the time to teach teams how to play rugby and improve their skills while staying true to the spirit of rugby. This amazing experience is something Lionel will always be grateful for!