By Simon Galinier
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This Sunday June 19, 2022, six days before the Top 14 final between Castres and Montpellier, three Castres have already been crowned champions of France. Indeed, the coaches of the conquest of the Tarn club Yannick Caballero (key coach) and Karena Wihongi (scrum coach), as well as the CO physio, William Stefanhave strengthened the French champion’s shield by 3e Series.
With their Tarn teammates from Pena XV (formerly Sor Agout 3regrouping of the villages of Saïx and Soual), they beat in the final Canet-d’Aude (11-9), the reigning Occitanie champion, at Conches on Orbiel (Aude), under the gaze of other members of the Castres staff and a good contingent of CO players, who came to encourage their colleagues.
Wihongi and Caballero almost cost Peña XV dearly
A national coronation snatched after a final with a crazy scenario, from the Tarnais of the Pena XV evolved to 14 against 15 and even to 13 against 15after the yellow card received by the ex-international flanker Yannick Caballero (1 selection), at the 55e minute of play, then the unnecessary expulsion to his twin brother and also third row Alexandre Caballero, at the hour of play, after a too muscular clearing in a ruck. Even reduced to double numerical inferiority for five minutes, the Penystas perfectly resisted the opposing assaults, before a final whistle on the siren, against veteran Karena Wihongi (42 years old), following a dangerous tackle, which could have cost the Peña XV dearly.
Except that in a good position, the back-scorer of theAS Canet failed to tame the Aude wind and the Tarnais of the co-trainer and president Damien Depy were crowned French Third Series champions. It could not be otherwise for the Peña XV, a group of friends mostly made up of childhood friends from the villages of Soual and Saix and who, for some, had achieved the doubled in honor (champion of France and champions of the Pyrenees)… there are 17 years, during the first year of creation of the Sor Agout club (2004-2005). Especially since the Peña XV, created 3 years ago, should be put on hold this summer, after bringing this ultimate planchot back to the baloney.
A first planchot, before a Brennus with Castres?
At 42 and 39 years old, Wihongi and Caballero have enriched their already very extensive trophy cabinet, since the right pillar has been French Federal 2 champion with Lons-le-Saunier (Jura) in 2000 and winner of the Top 14 in 2013while the third row “Caba” won the Pro D2 championship with Montauban (2006) and propelled twice the shield of Brennus with Castres (2013 and 2018).
Before perhaps unlocking their personal records as a coach, from their first year on the bench Castres Olympic and keep an unforgettable memory of this 2021-2022 season? Answer this Friday (8:45 p.m.), at the Stade de France, during the Castres-Montpellier final.
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