Philippe Tayeb (Bayonne): “We are ready, I hope, to compete”

Aviron Bayonne has perfectly achieved its goal of immediately rising to the Top 14, an event expected, unlike 2019. The president of the Basque club Philippe Tayeb is scheduled for the coming months.

How do you feel after this title?

The work done by the players, the staff and the managers. The club is growing. The goals at the start of the season may have put a little pressure on me, but I take full responsibility. We could not hide behind our status. Despite the difficult times, everyone reacted well. The test, the players responded present. It’s a great season.

Does your project stay strong?

We have tried to give the maximum means, to put the sports sector in the best conditions. This is also the role of the president. A club is a company, a unit. The oar has more than a hundred employees a day. We have to work the extra-sport so as not to depend on the results of the team.

Have you ever regretted setting the bar high?

It seemed normal to me. The Bayonne expected ambition. When you are a president, a responsible business leader, you have to give the direction to follow. This is what I did at all levels of the club. Everyone had well-defined goals: more subscribers, collaborations, and a service to the public that met their expectations. And of course a team capable of climbing the Top 14 as quickly as possible.

Next season, the slogan is to maintain … And also the sustainability of the club in the elite?

Maintenance is the first goal. But it is also a successful transition between Yannick Bru and Greg Patat. We know what it means to descend and how difficult it is to ascend again. We are warned.

What means will you use to succeed in the Top 14?

During our last two seasons in the Top 14 (2019-2020, 2020-2021) we had a budget of 15-16 million. It was insufficient. Next season we will be at 21.5 million. We will hire more to reach a payroll of about 8 million, which will place us among the weakest in the Top 14. But we will be prepared, I hope, to compete in the big leagues.

Have you asked your partners and shareholders to make an effort?

We are a popular club and we must remain so. The efforts that will be required will be collective. That’s why we ask everyone and those who want to grow the club with us.

Even if it’s not over, do you have a tool worthy of the top 14?

This is the “AB Etxea” project as announced at the beginning of my term. Indeed, we will have a stadium that meets the requirements of the Top 14 in terms of reception and resources. AB Campus (training and performance center) will be fully launched in November. We started the AB Stadium during a favorable period: the Covid period. This period allowed us not to suffer an economic imbalance by not welcoming our spectators and avoiding the frustration of our fans. And we have also benefited from various state aids. It was the best time to build the stand in the time allotted to us, five months. All the means have been implemented by the twenty local companies for the proper functioning of the site.

What about the eternal problem of lack of time for a recruitment adapted to the Top 14 for the rising team. Is this your case?

We were lucky enough to have a person who works permanently with the manager in hiring. We have worked upstream on both models. Today we are in a period of negotiation with the players who had been the target. Compared to 2019, we have gained a lot of time. We were surprised by the climb. We had not been able to prepare well for the recruitment.

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