A “remake”, but not a revenge. Since the start of this week which has led them, Friday June 24, to the final of the French rugby championship against Castres, at the Stade de France, the Montpellier residents have been spreading the message. To convince themselves of this, the people of Hérault have a few arguments. Of their workforce, only a handful were from the lost final, in 2018, against these same Castres, in the scenario of the season.
Dominating the season four years ago, Montpellier Hérault Rugby already seemed to hold the Top 14 cup with one hand, finally snatched by a Castres Olympique tumbling into the final after finishing the exercise in sixth position. This year, the roles have been rebalanced: the turn of Castres to approach the last step in the costume of leader, against Montpellier certainly second in the championship, but who come back from afar.
The defeat in the 2018 final had left traces and a disappointment commensurate with the means deployed to achieve it. In 2011, a few weeks before its first Top 14 final, the club was bought by French billionaire Mohed Altrad. A team of new rich then set up, without “Being consistent in high performance for ten, eleven years”, acknowledged current coach Philippe Saint-André at a press conference last week. For these galactics from Montpellier, the failure of 2018 is then experienced as ” a trauma “, does he slip The cross. Consequence: in the winter of 2021, the club is on the verge of relegation. As if to remind the institution “to its young history”, and the players “to humility”, considers Philippe Saint-André, to whom then returns the sign of providential man.
That year, the former winger of the XV of France (69 selections in the 1990s) will get away with a tenth place and even a trophy at the European Challenge, the “small” European cup of the oval ball. Six years after his time as coach of the France team, concluded by elimination in the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup against the All Blacks, and a decade after his departure from Toulon, Saint-André had taken advantage of his good understanding with Mohed Altrad to find a coaching bench. The two men have known each other since the failed takeover attempt by the entrepreneur of the English club Gloucester, in the early 2000s, when the former player had begun his conversion. “In addition to his financial contribution, Mohed also gives a lot of his person, he is involved in the project which aims to give back space to the training center”, supports Philippe Saint-André.
A referee in the staff
If the group seems more solid in the game this season, certain weaknesses still surface. Like their setback in the European Cup against Leinster last January, the heaviest ever suffered by a tricolor club in the competition. To continue his recovery, the manager was able to count on a “very complementary staff”.
In addition to his two assistants Jean-Baptiste Élissalde and Olivier Azam, recently extended, like him, until 2025, the technician notably surrounded himself with the former referee Alexandre Ruiz. A reinforcement that is part of the new trend of clubs to attach the services of ex-whistle attendants. All the more effective as the Montpellier owed in part their defeat in 2018 to their too many faults, offering penalties to Castres who did not ask for so much.
“The MHR was a very penalized team, this is no longer the case. You also enter into the psychology of the referee. It helps the players to know what level of aggression to put, to better manage these interventions, ” explained this week to The Team former Hérault player Benjamin Fall, in the losing side four years ago.
But if the emotional parameter can finish making Montpellier look like the favorite, Friday evening, on the occasion of the last match of his career for Guilhem Guirado, Philippe Saint-André applies for his part to “be careful” so that victory, synonymous with the first shield of Brennus, like defeat, does not start again “the stability of the club” : ” We are creating a different story. So yes, recruitment is less flamboyant, but we take second division guys, who come for the sports project, people who are already good people. »
Tensions in the organizing committee of the Rugby World Cup
A survey published Wednesday, June 22 by The Team shed light on the deleterious climate reigning within the organizing committee of the next Rugby World Cup, which will take place in France at the start of the 2023 school year. The Ministry of Sports immediately contacted the labor inspectorate on the basis of“worrying factors” reported by the committee’s 70 employees. About fifteen members suffer, according to their testimony to the sports daily, a “management by terror”. “At the moment, at least six of them are off work, most of them for overwork, anxiety and depression…”, adds the newspaper, while” around twenty “ have already left their post.