The technician navigates through the prism of current events, evoking his rugby culture, his inspirations and his methods. Not forgetting the season of his club which, after its proud victory over Montpellier, is more than ever in the qualifying race.
What is your assessment of the season going home straight?
The balance sheet is interesting, we see that the team is in the game. We are continuing at the end of last season, with a workforce that has grown and swelled thanks to the arrival of youngsters from Custer coaching, like Fernandez, Colonna, Le Brun, Mica… It’s important in a long tournament and when we play in both. We exited a streak of eleven matches without much damage. Our crew is almost done. Here the lights are green. It’s up to us to negotiate upcoming deadlines…
Now, what are you aiming for?
Keep in mind that in this bitter and contested tournament, the first step is to get it serviced. Not long ago, Biarritz brought down La Rochelle and Perpignan won at Stade Toulouse. The two were promoted to the top two teams last season. It is proof that there are no small teams and that this tournament is very difficult. However, if we can qualify, we won’t miss it. We still have important receptions: Claremont, Perpignan, Toulouse … It will be very difficult. But we can take advantage of not being too bothered by covid-19 and being able to play our eleven matches without delaying any matches. We’ll have breaks that some of our opponents won’t get. It is up to them to continue with it now. I will be able to manage and renew the workforce. Will we be able to take advantage of it? In the future I will say…
We often talk about the “Broncan style” in you. How do you define the style of play that you seek to implement?
I simply want to play realistic rugby. You have to be efficient in everything you do, with or without the ball. At CO, we try to target a certain form of consistency. If we happen to attend a meeting, it won’t happen very often and our overall performance is still very consistent. We also really emphasize the idea of team rugby. We must not forget that this is a team game. This often allows us to fight formations that may have loud names on paper, but may play a bit more individually…
Like your father, you have a reputation as one of the best amateur and foreign rugby experts. What is your typical day to stock up on some form of encyclopedic knowledge?
Indeed, I am really excited about rugby. This helps. Every Sunday, I go to the amateur rugby fields. I’m lucky to live in a fairly central location (lives in the inner suburbs of Toulouse, editor’s note), allowing me, in a short time, to find a good match. Whether it’s raining, windy, or snowing, I take my kids and go! I try to discover the forgotten nuggets, these men who have passed through the discoveries.
When I’m in the office, especially during the European Cup, I watch Premier League or Celtic League matches with other coaches to study our opponents. Then, at home, I don’t part: we watch a lot of rugby. There are super rugby leagues, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, America… when I really have the time, I can even allow myself to be tempted by a small game between college students…
Finally, I watch all the Pro D2 matches, starting with the sacred session on Thursday night with the first match of the tournament day, which we watch as a family. Moreover, today’s French Ligue 2 is a good resource for us. A typical example is the recruitment of prostitute Gaëtan Barlot who played in the Colomiers. He arrived in the second division, works hard with us and ends up making it to the France team. This gives us very good publicity.
You are a fan of rugby.
I don’t do it for my job. I’m really doing it out of passion for this game.
We know that CO is very close to its territory and to the amateur clubs that gravitate around Castres …
We cultivate affinity with hobbyists on a daily basis. It is one of our strengths. Our players are players in local life. Today, all our specialists live in Castres. Custer is a city where rugby sweats. Supporters are very respectful. Players are recognized in the city but not harassed. When I talk to the boys, they all said they were happy in Tarn. This is also the reason why some people are committed for the long haul. The living environment is very pleasant and the club, with all its layers, conveys the values of humility and hard work. Anyone who does not have these criteria does not stay long. isolates himself.
An example of this “living together well”?
Many of our players, like Combezou, Meka, Koccott or Hannoyer, get involved with the youngsters, by helping to train in the rugby school, without being asked about anything. We have transferred the project from professionals to young people. This says something about the state of mind here. Another advantage is that we have one head of CO, Pierre-Yves Revol. Finally, there is a detail that always amazes me here: When we go to see the kids in training, they all wear the first team jersey. Elsewhere, there are children in Blacks, Toulouse or Stade Français shirts. not here. It is a strong sign of attachment to the territory. The club wants to coach the youngsters from Custer and the youngsters from Custer want to play for the club.
You often recruit unknown foreign players to improve a group of young players trained in the club. What do you think of them?
The main recruitment criterion is the ability to integrate. We do a lot of videos with our target players before we introduce them. A good example of this is Tom Stanforth. He’s Australian, only been with us for a few months, but seems to have always lived in Custer. Jack Whiton Ditto. He is the son of the club’s legend, Gary. He has already arrived and is very attached to CO. Our seniors are also very adept at incorporating new people. Important. With us, there is no clan. Everyone develops together. We win aliens our culture. On the bus, on victory nights, the music is French. It goes well with foreigners who apply in the language of Molière! Well, with Joe (Worsley, defense coach), which is bilingual, we sometimes translate videos to take a step towards it. But we ask them to make the effort to master the language.
How are decisions made with Pierre-Yves Revol (Chairman) and Mathias Roland (Club Manager)?
They trust me but we share everything. There are no secrets. I suggest names manage the financial part. We are discussing. When I suggest unknown names to the battalion, it is necessary to defend the file. They inquire on their own. Pierre-Yves has thirty years of experience, and he has his own network. After that, I never came up with financially improper proposals (He laughs). Having said that, I am convinced that if I ask for an “extra” by presenting myself with a good track record for an expensive player, it may not be a hindrance. But today, it’s not in the club’s hiring policy nor in the values we want to put forward.
Is your exit from the European Cup still in your throat?
no. We knew it would be very difficult to negotiate this contest once the calendar was published. Playing against Harlequins and Munsters isn’t really a gift. Frustration, if there was frustration, would have played all the matches so that he would not be rewarded in the end…
However, seeing the features of the matches, you proved that you were in the game…
Already. These matches made us grow and allowed the players, especially the younger ones, to gain a lot of confidence and experience. We ranked the kids who were not invited into the top 14 at the start of the season and who realized that with hard work they could compete with the teams on the roof of Europe. I’m thinking of Brice Humbert, who arrived in the off-season from Valencia Roman, who was physically struggling in recovery training and who ended up firing sixty minutes of very high quality against Monster.
Who are your models, masters in this profession?
In France, for the people who coached me when I was a player, I see three of them: my father, Xavier Péméja, and Jean-Pierre Elissalde. On another record, Jack Forox was a very inspiring president. Pierre Berbeiser tagged me too. The strange thing is that they are all former semi-scrum. Today, I am fortunate to be close to Eddie Jones, who remains a world-class artist. As a player, the man who impressed me the most is Father Serge Sergeev. This guy had a brutal career at Montauban, but he could have started at any other French club. He truly deserved to raise Prinus’ shield. It’s a pleasure to see his loyalty to the VA. I’ve always been a fan of these guys who have the T-shirt of their hearts tied to their body. Ouedraogo in MHR, Babillot in CO… These guys deserve to be highlighted, at a time when everything is changing so much in our sport.
Your great half, Rory Cocotte, will end his football career at the end of the season. Will he be part of your staff next season?
We’ll see. He is not sure at all. What is certain is that we want him to stay at the club. In what role? This remains to be determined. Before he claims to train the pros, Rory must first beef up his training. And then, I have strong, outstanding coaches around me. If there are departures within the staff, we’ll see. We need more relationships between youth and the professional sector, even if we have already started a convergence.
A word about the fifteenth for France?
With Fabien Galthié, the French XV has made tremendous progress. He made it professional. Regarding the training content, the game plan, Fabian came one morning for coffee with me, and he stayed three hours talking about rugby. I had to leave to honor a date and blamed myself for being enjoying myself. He’s a hell of a technician. I honestly think the 15th for France can win the championship. He will be a very serious candidate for the World Cup. There is depth, great players, men in constant growth in their prime.
I spent two years in Bath. What do you remember from this experience?
It was very rewarding. Discover another country, another culture. My kids have learned a foreign language, it’s very nice. I, have learned the training structures for British personnel. The place was beautiful, the city is beautiful, and the atmosphere in the stadium was good. But I was disappointed that this club had become a little ‘slender’. Whether we win or lose, it doesn’t matter. Everyone has a smile no matter what. It was very bewildering.
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