Lionel Merven was recently a contestant on Mauritius’s first ever reality TV show Lockdown Island. An entrepreneur with ambitious plans and an interest in the health of the Mauritian people, the former member of the National Rugby Union, now a coach, intends to continue his work in health for athletes and launch his own chic sports clothing brand.
Lionel Merven, 34, thinks big – once he has an idea, he’s all in until he gets the results he wants. The former rugby player is currently working on a project to open a restaurant that offers dishes suitable for athletes. “The concept, oriented around sport and well-being, is to offer healthy food,” he explains.
Another project close to his heart is the launch of his own brand of chic sports clothing. “I have lots of ideas. I must now make them happen,” confides Merven.
The rugby coach manages the Domaine de Saint Denis restaurant in Chamarel, which offers hearty meals to visitors and hikers who want to enjoy the surrounding natural habitat. The Domaine also has a quarantine center for horses. From a family passionate about horses, Lionel Merven is no exception to family tradition. “I especially like to see them run. I’m not a gambler,” he emphasizes. He also adores dogs, “I have a lot of dogs at home. I have come across several in the streets and I took care of them. Some have been given up for adoption, while the others are with me. I even have one sleeping in the bed“
He also has a love affair with sport. Lionel retired as a rugby player two years ago, but he remained in the fold by becoming a coach. His backstory – the real reason why he became involved in sport – is a heartwarming one.
“When I was 15 years old I fell in love with a girl. I was obese and she didn’t even look at me. It motivated me to turn to sport,” remembers the man who defended the Quadricolore for many years in international tournaments.
He played in several local teams, notably at Lycee des Mascareignes, Nothern Pirates, Western Cowboys and Curepipe Starlight; he was crowned champion of Mauritius with all these teams. Lionel Merven also played in a club in Cape Town, South Africa, and in the team of the University of Montesquieu, Bordeaux, academic finalist of Aquitaine and champion of university France.
After putting an end to his career, he turned to coaching. He has coached the U13 and U17 teams of Curepipe Startlight. He was also responsible for the national under 16 selection.
“Rugby has no religion or ethnicity. In the team, we are all equal. We share the same room, we eat the same meals, we have the same emotions and we all fight for the team while respecting the opponent. I like the values that rugby instils,” declares Merven.
T1 Diams Ambassador
Lionel Merven is also an ambassador for T1 Diams, an organisation that supports people with diabetes. “700,000 people suffer from diabetes or have a predisposition to have this illness in Mauritius. In my family, there are people who suffer from diabetes. I saw the work that T1 Diams does. As an ambassador, I have the role of looking for sponsors for them. It is a pleasure for me to be able to help.“
An Adventure Called Lockdown Island
Lockdown Island was a great adventure for Lionel Merven. He says that his time on this reality show – the first to be aired on the island – allowed him to have great encounters. “I met amazing people including Bigg Franki, Natty Gong, JSB Morning Game, Lioness Stacy, Jessica Cheung. There is also James Agathe, who I respect a lot. He is a fighter, shines in the biggest competitions and has done a lot for his country.”
With such an impressive track record, Lionel Merven will undoubtedly do the same in the years to come.