Lou is experiencing a small revolution at the start of the 2022-2023 season. After seven and a half years of reign for Pierre Mignoni, bonus winner of the Challenge Cup last May, it was Xavier Garbajosa who was presented to the journalists during an introductory press conference. The former rear of the France team (32 selections between 1998 and 2003) and deprived of a bench since his dismissal from Montpellier in the winter of 2021, a year and a half ago, was presented by Yann Roubert, the president of the Lou. The opportunity to discover a breath of fresh air on the Lyon club in search of going beyond its glass ceiling: to play for the title.
Collectively, what are the concrete objectives put on the table at the dawn of your first season on the Lyon bench?
Xavier Garbajosa: “The president made it clear: the objective of the club and the management is to find the final stages of the Top 14 (this has not happened since 2019). On one also the goal of the Champions Cup. We’re going to have to adapt to the first meetings and the trips, particularly to South Africa. We want to play Europe to win it, we can also qualify for the final phase, so we have to play both ways. Depending on the results, we will focus our strategy with the staff on the various competitions to be contested while managing the international players who will not be with us on the international windows. »
“Exchange, analyze and work to bring this group where I want”
It’s been a year and a half since you’ve known the bench of a club. Do you comment on the group and what does it mean for you to find your way back to training?
XG: “Personally, it’s a lot of excitement. I find this rugby atmosphere. I longed for it to start again. Plan training, find boys, discuss, debate rugby with the staff. I discovered a rather favored group. The players are fresh, we left 5 weeks of vacation in a climate of trust so that they too can work on their side. It allowed them to clear their heads. The season has been very long with joys and sorrows experienced. The group is happy to come back. We are attacking a period of physical preparation, it is hot, it is tedious. We are also in a period of discovery between the staff, the players and me. »
What do you think you can bring to this group which is stagnating at the national level?
XG: “It’s always difficult to say what I’m going to bring. I find that a bit pretentious. I will try to give my personality, try to analyze the environment, adapt. I am in an observation period where I can work. I have to adapt, have discussions with the guys. We want to have the most performance, so concerning me, I watch, I listen, I exchange for then with my personality, the man that I am, to work to bring this group where I want. »
Also remember that training on Tuesday will be open to the public from 12 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Gerland playground. At the start of this first press conference, President Roubert also presented the summer program for the Lyon season:
From 15/08 to 20/08: Stage preparation in Corsica
19/08: Preparation match: Lou/Montpellier at Bastia
08/25: Squad presentation evening at the Matmut Stadium in Gerland
03/09 or 04/09: First day of Top 14 in Brive.