A few days before the last home game of the season against Bayonne, synonymous with a possible entry for the final phase of Pro D2, Frédéric Calamel and Benoît Mestre, co-presidents of USC, return to both popular and associative support that the structure has been able to grow throughout the championship.
A few months after the start of the season, you presented a five-year project for USC with both structural and sporting ambitions. In view of the first team’s journey, do you think that these guidelines are already bearing fruit?
Benoît Mestre: He obviously has a role to play because when you present a five-year project, you get excited, you push everyone, from the squad to the players and the fans. We no longer play maintenance with 2,500 spectators on Sunday: from the start of the season we signed up for a place in the top six and we will have done everything to achieve it. But we owe these results in the first place to a mature team, to a consolidated management … We are in the line of the previous season, where we were not bad either!
Frederic Calamel: I also see the consequences of the financial effort the club has made to strengthen the team and the staff, especially at the medical level. Our partners have responded: we have managed to give ourselves a little more means to achieve our goals.
Has the club won the support of all levels of the territory?
BM: The City Council helps us a lot in terms of receptions, the Agglo and the Department are also present. For our part, we have always seen ourselves as an Aude actor in our own right: we have been promoting local products for ten years, especially during home games.
And popular support?
BM: During the derby against Narbonne, there were a lot of people in the stadium. Against Auriac, we were 5,000! It also explains why we do animation before and after the meeting, several people are in charge of the communication of the club … We are very present in the social networks, with young people, and in addition the Club of Companies of the USC offers quality evenings with renowned evenings. speakers. We are careful not to forget anyone, supporters or partners, and we will keep moving forward: we are targeting many more spectators at the stadium.
CF: We want the public and partners who come to Domec to be recognized on our team. We are not the richest but we try to compensate with work, to transmit this philosophy to the players and the members of the staff. I think the people of Carcassonne recognize themselves in these values.
Does the local economic world also vibrate more for USC?
BM: We’ve doubled our partnerships in five years, and they’re still growing this season. Beyond rugby, USC must be the place where members meet other members, where families come to spend the evening, where children reinforce their passion for the sport or discover it for the first time … A place, in short, where everyone finds their account.
At the beginning of the season you also called on the City Council for the need to modernize certain facilities. Did you hear the message?
BM: Yes, they listened to us and started the projects. The only expedient in which we would like things to go faster is the repair of the old stand, but there are priorities and we understand that perfectly. We will benefit from additional rooms, a structure dedicated to supporters to accommodate food if necessary, renovated lockers … Again, there will be improvements for everyone, donors and volunteers.
Do you think that the aura of the club today goes beyond the sports aspect only?
FC: Of course, rugby is still at the center of everything. But if we want to gather from 4 to 5000 people on Sunday, we will not be able to gather from 4 to 5000 rugby fans. We also have to attract people who have just come to spend a good night in a good atmosphere, and make going to the stadium an outing like the theater or the cinema. On this occasion, some will do business, others will strengthen their social ties … Apart from USC, what structure can boast of bringing thousands of people to Carcassonne fifteen weekends a year? However, as in a rugby field, everyone here is on the same level. Fans, volunteers, business leaders, players … Everyone has the opportunity to meet and debate. We want to perpetuate this coexistence.
When you see the fans create a percussion group or invent hymns for the club, do you also think the bet is won?
BM: You mean Arnaud and Los Sambaderos. Call us directly to let us know! But for us people like that are as important as a great partner, because they are the soul of the club.
CF: The success of USC is largely due to this desire for federation. The club is open and all good will is welcome: we have so much love for the volunteer that he will give his time as a member who makes a great financial contribution.
How to maintain the current enthusiasm around the club, whatever the outcome of the season?
FC: First of all, people have to realize how happy it is, given our resources, to play the final phase with the aim of entering the Top 14. Then, whatever happens, we will have to make the spectators come to the stadium … and we will not lie to each other: the goodwill of a rugby club is victory.
A little more than a game
On Thursday, May 5, USC will play a crucial match against Bayonne, which will also be the last home game of the season. An evening that the club thought of as a real global party, with many activities around the stadium. But in what mood are the co-chairs approaching this evening? Given what’s at stake, will they really have the spirit to celebrate?“It simply came to our notice thentrusts Frédéric Calamel. Sportingly, the team has to win to validate its magnificent season; and from an organizational standpoint, we expect a lot of people at the stadium, including a meal that will bring together a thousand people. It’s a great job! “ Benoît Mestre confirms: “That night, you must be available to everyone”. However, both have in mind a confrontation whose scope goes beyond the only sporting framework. “It is the last match in Carcassonne, also the last of some emblematic players, also against one of the biggest teams in France … For all this, victory is also essential”.