“I’m in Montpellier to stay there”

Englishman Zach Mercer has been one of MHR’s strong men this season. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

The English No. 8, impressive for his first season in the Top 14, talks about this historic championship title, the toughness of rugby in France and his future he sees at the MHR.

A new game of titans. In the Top 14 final against Castres (29-10), Zach Mercer shone again. Hard with evil and brilliant with the ball in hand. After the match, in the corridors of the Stade de France, he talked for a long time about his remarkable season with the MHR. A successful first in France, a historic championship title and a long celebration. Before going to get married in England. The Grand Slam.

The title of champion of France with the MHR

“It’s crazy. It will take me a while to realize what we have achieved with this group. This is exceptional. When I came to France, I thought the European Cup was the most important trophy to win. But when you come to France, you realize it’s totally different – that’s what we realize when we see the reactions of Guilhem Guirado, “Fufu” (Ouedraogo), Kylian Galletier who put an end to his career, for Benoît Paillaugue leaving the club.

The hot departure from Montpellier in 12 minutes

“I thought it could be dangerous. Toulouse was a bit in the same position last week. That’s what I told Guilhem when we met in a circle: we have to change immediately and continue. It’s a situation where we want to be but at the same time, we went from the hunter position to the hunting position.But those first twenty minutes were very amazing, they are probably the top twenty we have done this season.We were ready for this big game.I liked it much like we did in the semifinals and the final.We were at a disadvantage and ended up lifting the trophy.We knew we had to be strong on defense.»

French rugby is brutal! It’s hard for the body, but I love it!

Zach Mercer

What does the Brennus shield represent?

“I’m going to sit next to him in the locker room and look at him carefully with the Montpellier name engraved for the first time in the club’s history. Achieving this for my first season here is amazing. I’ll sit in the locker room and reflect on everything the team has achieved and everything I have achieved on a personal level.

His view on the Top 14

“French rugby is brutal! Wherever you go, against all the teams, it’s always very physical. You can’t escape. It’s hard for the body, but I love it! How can you not love this rugby when you see the atmosphere in the stadiums? When you see what it means to the French … I had never seen anything like it. What’s crazy is that I had never won anything in rugby, but now I could say I won the Top 14.

I’m going to sit next to Mohamed Haouas for breakfast, he doesn’t speak a word of English but we manage to joke and laugh

Zach Mercer

The links that were created during the season

“We started the season by winning only two games and drawing one in the first seven days. Then we had what I call a first crisis meeting. And then we won at Racing and had ten wins in a row. The bonds within the team have been strengthened. And before the final, Philippe Saint-André told us: “Guys if you win this final, you will no longer be just friends, you will form the same family. In thirty years, you will remember it.”

Its integration in Montpellier

“I am just happy to be here. I know Montpellier had a bad reputation in the past. But we are changing all that. There is no “segregation” between foreign and French players, nor barriers between us. I’m going to sit next to Mohamed Haouas at breakfast, he doesn’t speak a word of English but we manage to make jokes and laugh. And that is what this group has built and the credit goes to Philippe (Saint-André).

Of course I would like to do the World Cup. If the opportunity presents itself, it would be great. But I know I can’t play with England if I’m in France

Zach Mercer

The role of Saint-André in its success

“He came looking for me. He trusted me. He told the president to recruit me. I thank him a thousand times. When I saw his reaction to the final whistle, I understood what that title meant to him. Last season , the club struggled to avoid relegation.This year we went to the quarter-finals of the European Cup and won the Top 14. Although we lost players. Philippe is a smart guy. He said: “Zach, we know what you can do for us. ”Whether it’s Philippe, Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, Olivier Azam or the team members, they let me do what I know how to do.

And his international career?

“I met Eddie Jones (Rose’s XV coach) in Marseille before the European Cup final. I was honest with him: I’m here to win trophies and to improve. I know that if I come back to England, I’ll write in my resume: I won the Top 14. I’m here in Montpellier to stay, I’ll be there next season, and I’ll fight to stay the next season. ..) Of course I would like to do the World Cup. If the opportunity arises, it would be great. But I know I can’t play with England if I’m in France.»

Leave a Comment