Head coach of RC Amiénois promoted to Federal 2, Martin Saleille talks about the coming season and the club’s ambitions.
After having discovered your hen, you are impatient to know your adversaries… So?
Yes, we really wanted to know our pool, not so much for the opponents, because we know it’s going to be a difficult season. It’s our first time in Federal 2, this is going to be new to many, but there are also lots of excitement! We especially wanted to know what sauce we were going to be eaten in terms of travel. In the end, we’re doing pretty well, with eight teams from the Paris region and only two long trips to Brittany. It suits us well to have very few long journeys in the season. We will now be able to project ourselves into next season. Afterwards, there are big teams in the pool, but we are in Federal 2, we knew that the level was going to be better…
So having very few long trips is very good news for you?
Yes, it is really a good thing for several points. The players made the effort to leave over two days at the end of the season against Saint Malo and Strasbourg but I admit that the last match at Laffitte Houses, not having made too big a trip, did us good. When we do long hours by bus, it’s tiring, we are far from our families and so on. We’re going to be on deck for twenty-two weekends, so if we also have to leave five or six times over two days, it’s complicated. The pool, from a geographical point of view, is really nice and the other teams must share this vision. Especially since we must not forget the economic dimension which also comes into play. If you want to have ambitions and be competitive, you cannot not just go away for a day. Technically, it’s possible but when you have 5 or 6 hours of transport in the morning, you can’t be efficient in the afternoon and in addition you come home around 2am. It plays on the organisms and it wears out, so you can’t if you want to be efficient.
The goal in the middle of the table is achievable
Was being able to leave for several days a criterion that you used to build your team?
No, it is not something that has been taken into account at all! Our recruitment is there above all to densify the workforce and precisely compensate for absences. We wanted to arrive depth to spin. The goal is to be able to field a competitive team with 100% guys every time. We will have absent players this season for various reasons, it is certain and understandable. On their comment just requested, they were going to be able to invest next year but on their request not to be present every weekend obligatorily and even less on two days. We are aware that the guys who work nearby may also have family obligations.
What will be the ambitions for next season?
Our primary ambition will be to seek maintenance as quickly as possible. After, we tend to be a bit ambitious in Amiens, which sometimes earned us ridicule at the start of last season when we weren’t very well, but in the end it proved us right. Once we are sure to put two teams behind us, we will see why not aim higher. Ideally, we hope to aim for the middle of the table and not fight to maintain ourselves until the last days. Afterwards, if you finish 6th, that’s great but that means doing the jump-offs from the start… Is that premature? I don’t know… Afterwards, we won’t say no. Because if you are in the final phase, anything is possible. In any case, we joined a team to be in the middle of the table, which is very interesting for a first year. I think it’s really doable. But it’s unclear what the other teams are doing and how they got stronger. We will see at the start of the season. After the first two blocks, we can judge the level of the hen. Before, it will be complicated. Afterwards, I really think that with what we put in place, the objective of the middle of the table is achievable.
You are ambitious but before looking too high, you must above all structure yourself?
Yes, and that’s really what we’re doing. If we are so ambitious, it is because we give ourselves the means and we are ready like last season. Then I asked myself whether it was too premature to play the final stages in the first season. I do not have the answer but if it is not an objective, we will not deny a place in the final phase. If you are in the top six, you deserve it and you play them hard, because then anything can happen. We are not going to announce a rise in Federal 1 but you have to know how to seize opportunities when they arise. Finally, we focus mainly on our primary objective which is to maintain ourselves as quickly as possible, once recorded, we will be able to see if we can claim something else.
Your priority was to keep a large part of the workforce: have you succeeded?
Yes, we really wanted to keep a very big core and we managed to keep a large part of the workforce, even if we still have a few interviews to do. On some departures that were already recorded, such as Anthony Scelers which met end to his career unfortunately. Or Tangi Mailly who also stops even if we try each time to convince him to continue! He hasn’t given in yet but the season hasn’t started yet (laugh). Next, Alexis Carpentier puts rugby on hold for his studies because the two are no longer compatible, Thomas Prevost who is in the same situation has chosen to pursue rugby. Antoine Macrez He will surely miss the start of the season due to injury and professional training but we will get him back in the season, that’s for sure. For the rest, apart from a few young people who played in reserve and who had to leave for their studies, we keep everyone. Players really want to try the adventure by Federal 2.
We will need everyone
What was your recruitment objective?
Already, we wanted to compensate for the departure ofAnthony Scelers and the lack of macrez for the start of the season on the front line. We have therefore signed two pillars who will come to strengthen us and why not we would like to sign a third. It’s a position where we were sometimes lacking last year and having several players for this position, knowing that we take two in each match, it’s not too much. If we do not manage to sign a third, it does not matter but we would like it. Then, we signed two guys who play in the 2nd line, including one who plays more in the 8th line. There is also a center who can also play on the wings and to finish a 9-10. We are therefore at 6 new players and we will perhaps make another 2-3 moves maximum, the goal being to expand the group. We know that we have what it takes with the players already present but there will be 22 matches and we want to field a 100% team every time. The guys can say to themselves: “chew, there are a lot of new ones, we’re not going to play”… But we’ll need everyone and no one will leave with their guaranteed place. If we want to be competitive, we must give the group in number but also in quality. We are going to play 22 games with an intensity close to what we experienced in the final stages and play all the matches performing well, it’s almost impossible. That’s why we chose to bring depth to the group. It is not because we are going to look for new ones that we do not have confidence in our players. We have confidence, but like every year we will look for guys of a higher level to help the team and our local players to continue to progress. Afterwards, we are never safe from good surprises and guys who call us saying: “I am moving for such a reason in the area. Can I come play? But on the contrary, in September, it is possible that one of our players tells us that he has to move and that he leaves too…
Just because we’re looking for new players doesn’t mean we don’t trust our players
Finally, your recruitment is in line with that of last year?
Yes, we go up one team level and ask that we have to complete the other, but we mustn’t do anything either and forget what we have. Our best recruitment is to have been able to keep most of the workforce. When I arrived in Amiens, I came from a federal 2 club and I immediately saw incredible players. They asked me why I came here and I told them: “But, don’t you realize that there are so many guys that I would have liked to have with me in Federal 2 and who would have been good teammates! “As I’ve always said, in this team, there are a very large number of guys who have the qualities to be very good team-mates in Fédérale 2. Afterwards, alongside that, we have very good players who are able to be X factors like our three internationals or even Thomas Prévost or Louis Wiotte. These players won’t be able to be so many X factors in Federal 2 and the objective was to add guys capable of being so but also having experience. Last year, the experience of a guy like Anthony Scelers for example, we really served. A guy like Thomas Wayaert who played almost every game in full at the end of the season completely dead and next year he won’t be able to do that, so it had to be done quantitatively. It will also happen from emulation, because the guys will have to go there to win their places and it will boost the group!
The reserve will also be very ambitious for the coming season?
Our reserve will be even more ambitious! We only have one group and potentially everyone can play in both teams. She had a fantastic season, with an eighth-final against an opponent who went very far. We need a strong reserve for the first team to perform well. Putting it aside is out of the question. They must continue to be a hard-to-beat reserve, intractable at home and capable of hitting away. It must aim for the top 6 or even 4 next year without problem. Given the level shown last year, the progression phase of some and the contribution, it is a realistic objective. Inevitably, by strengthening the first team, we will also strengthen the reserve by domino effect. We keep our three internationals, so each time there will be one who will play with them and let it be Tsomondo, O’Neill or Van Rensburg, when they play with them, it changes things and it makes the players progress. Like last year, we are going to pay attention to the performances in reserve of all the players, because there is a package of players who will be validated in reserve and claim to play in A, as was the case last year. for Labyrinth we Maugard for example, but there are also others who have not played but who could. The reserve will therefore be very important for next year and will, I hope, once again be a driving force.
Photo credit: Kevin Devigne and Léandre Leber – Gazettesports