A week ago, on the eve of the first semi-final of the Top 14, we felt the Castres players, presented at a press conference, shy, and answered fairly briefly and dryly to questions from journalists. Change of tone and face on Thursday afternoon. Mathieu Babillot, the captain, Thomas Combezou, the center, and Gaëtan Barlot, the young hooker, had a smile and an extended look.
The first two played twirls to determine who would answer a question about Rory Kockott’s absence… Perhaps they feel like they’ve done the most by leaving Toulouse (24-18) and in itself a qualifier for the final. Wednesday, they are in Saclay (Essonne), far from the Stade de France, quiet, with a beautiful ping-pong table, pétanque courts, and Gérard Cholley, the emblematic pillar, who was invited by President Pierre -Yves Revol, to participate in the final preparation. He was also on the bench for the last training of the Tarnais.
“We are not preferred. It’s them. Just look at their season, their journey in the European Cup and this bench depth. Clearly they were one step ahead of us”
“We are good at Saclay, says Babillot, we manage to evacuate, there is not too much stress, we try to take advantage of the moment. » Inexperienced at this level, Gaëtan Barlot will not miss any of these exceptional hours: “It’s a unique experience, it’s something beautiful, you’ll be amazed. It rewards ten months of work. » Winners of a good fight against Toulouse on Friday, Pierre-Henry Broncan’s players were able to recover properly. “We had time to regenerate”, assures Combezou. With a 24-hour advantage over Montpellier. “I don’t know if it’s going to count, says Babillot. When you win, you recover faster, the little bruises, you hide them. And the infirmary empties. » While the Montpellierans try to push the Castres on the highest step of the favorites, Thomas Combezou hammers: “We are not preferred. It’s them … Just look at their season, their journey in the European Cup with this quarter-final in Montpellier, and this depth of bench. Clearly, they were one step ahead of us. »
Two teams that have dedicated themselves from afar
One thing is certain, the two teams have come a long way and have been inspired by what they experienced last season to grow. For those who have forgotten that in sport, everything goes very quickly, Castres and Montpellier played the maintenance of last season. “On a regained our mentalitysays the captain, we found ourselves on our values, we knew how to work well, the group grew with revengeful players from Pro D2, or university… “ A way of congratulating Pierre-Henry Broncan, the manager and recruiter… It was not he who came to the press conference, but David Darricarrère, his partner, the man with the beard who looks more and more like the Manchester United’s legendary Irish midfielder, Roy Keane… Like the players, he appeared relaxed. Like Broncan, he made the audience understand perfectly the importance of the club in the life of the Castres. “This week I spoke with the traders, and they all told me that people have not been the same since the victory against Toulouse. They all have the banana. »
Will they still have it this Friday at 11 p.m.? For David Darricarrère, the presence in the workforce of players who have already moved the Brennus is not trivial: “They will talk more than usual, more thoroughness, dialogue with others, aside. It reassures, it comforts, it shows the way. It’s important to have them…”