A week ago, on the eve of the first semifinal of the Top 14, we heard the Castres players, present at the press conference, shy, and answering quite briefly and dryly to the questions of journalists. Change of tone and face on Thursday afternoon. Mathieu Babillot, the captain, Thomas Combezou, the center, and Gaëtan Barlot, the young prostitute, had a smile and a relaxed look.
The first two went around to determine who would answer a question about the absence of Rory Kockott … Perhaps they feel they have done the hardest part by leaving Toulouse (24-18) and qualifying for the final. Since Wednesday they have been in Saclay (Essonne), far from the Stade de France, quiet, with a beautiful ping-pong table, petanque courts, and Gérard Cholley, the iconic pillar, who was invited by President Pierre- Yves. Revol, to participate in the final preparation. He was also on the bench at the last training session of the Tarnais.
“We are not favorites. It’s them. Just look at his season, his run in the European Cup and that depth on the bench. It’s clear they were one step ahead of us. “
“In Saclay we are fine, 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 a beautiful thing, it will surprise you. Reward ten months of work. » The players of Pierre-Henry Broncan, winners of a good fight against Toulouse on Friday, have been able to recover properly. “We had time to regenerate”, says Combezou. With 24 hours ahead of Montpellier. “I don’t know if it will count, Babillot crosses. When you win, you recover faster, small bruises, hiding them. And the infirmary is empty. » While Montpellier are trying to push the Castres to the first step of the favorites, Thomas Combezou hammered: “We are not favorites. It’s them … You just have to see their season, their journey to the European Cup with this quarter-final in Montpellier, and this depth of bench. Obviously, they were one step ahead of us. »
Two teams coming back from afar
One thing is for sure, both teams have come a long way and have been inspired by what they went through last season to grow. For those who have forgotten that in sports everything goes very fast, Castres and Montpellier played maintenance last season. “We have found our mentalitysays the captain, we met our values, we knew how to work well, the group grew with avenging players from Pro D2, or from university … “ A way to congratulate Pierre-Henry Broncan, the manager and recruiter … It was not he who came to the press conference, but David Darricarrère, his partner, the bearded man who increasingly resembles the legendary Irishman from Manchester United. midfielder, Roy Keane … Like the players, he seemed relaxed. Like Broncan, he made the public understand perfectly the importance of the club in the life of the Castres. “This week I spoke to the traders, and everyone told me that people are not the same since the victory against Toulouse. They all have the banana. »
Will they still have him this Friday at 11pm? For David Darricarrère, the presence in the squad of players who have already raised the Brennus is not trivial: “They will talk more than usual, more thorough, dialogue with others, apart. Calm, comforting, shows the way. It’s important to have them … “