Rugby / Pro D2: SUA coach Bernard Goutta wants to ‘put the club in its place’

Early Monday afternoon, SUA manager Bernard Goutta welcomed us to Armandie. The opportunity to learn the first lessons of this preparation and show the goals for the next season. With all humility.

It’s been almost a month since you started preparing for this new season. Where is the group a few days from training? Are your impressions good?

We start to see the players transform physically and rugby. We integrate rugby and our game project by microcell. We work on our strengths. We have been in defense for fifteen days and we are currently working on the offensive phases. Little by little, we inform the players of our expectations.

Are you on your toes compared to your road book?

We are on the nails. We know it’s difficult, but it’s to make it easier for the parties. We want to optimize this preparation as much as possible and set up our game plan, that’s the most important thing.

Was this start of preparation the reason for good surprises or revelations at the level of the players?

Frankly, the players have not gained weight. They were sharp and had followed the program Ludovic Loustau had given them. We’ve had really good tests and it’s still going to get better. The players prepared accordingly to better address this preparation. We integrate new players and create a real group. We are still missing some players like Takulua or Sosene-Feagai who will arrive at the beginning of August. We had focused our recruitment to have the least number of internationals and have the most complete group possible at the beginning of the summer.

Precisely, is his recruitment over or should we expect a surprise?

Practically, except error in key positions. Our best recruitment is to have injected 18 youngsters. They were able to see the high level requirements and they too are changing. We know we can count on them this season. There aren’t many recruits. But this was aimed at rebalancing our lines which had a lot of young people. In a time of money in an away game, they will need the experience of the seniors to lead them to victory. These recruits must bring the culture of winning to our workforce.

Are big SUA prospects like Nalaga or Dayral ready for the high level?

They are ready to come with us to prepare us. They have already given good signs and fit into the game project, they are players who will count for sure. The elders look up to them and that creates good competition.

How did the integration of the new staff go?

I find that they quickly orient themselves, simply because we know each other. We played together for a few and combined our skills as coaches. I feel a lot of freshness in Manny and Ludovic (Editor’s note: Manny Edmonds and Ludovic Loustau). At Dave’s too (Editor’s Note: Dave Ryan). I am very satisfied.

Are these the assistants you wanted?

I didn’t want friends above all else, I wanted competition and people better than me in certain areas. Manny came to handle the offense. Ludovic climbed three in the Top 14, he has the experience of physically planning a team for an entire season. Elliot, the video analyst, also experienced a rise with Pau. We brought in more experienced staff, even if the old staff were hardworking.

You speak from experience. Is this factor what was missing in previous years?

Most of all, it was confidence that was missing. Without a victory it is difficult to have one. It would have been necessary to place an experienced member on the old staff to precisely absorb the pressure of defeat.

Is the group affected by injuries during this preparation phase?

We are lucky. There are small muscle problems in some but absolutely nothing serious. After that, we didn’t play opposition rugby. We are working on our organization, intensity and speed, but not yet real “live”. We’ll wait for next week and practice for that.

In the scrum, does the lack of experience behind Takulua worry you?

No way. The balance is good with Idjellidaine, Bellot and Compagnon. Takulua has the soul of a captain. He wears the bracelet with the Tongas and frames the youths behind him. The young people are preparing very well.

What about the worker position?

He shouldn’t move unless he’s injured. We will have to manage for Lagarde. Dayral has already shown us some good stuff in Pro D2. Vincent takes on another dimension and Gerber can play in all positions and I find him in very good form. The balance is good.

Speaking of play style, are we going to see a new “agenais game”?

When you’re the 12th defense and 14th offense in Pro D2, it means you weren’t effective enough, especially on the wing. Our conquest was undermined and it didn’t help us score tries. 60% of the attempts come from the touchline and we couldn’t take advantage of that last year. We put in a special organization, we will distribute our players all over the field so that they are unpredictable and dangerous. I want us to have a team that moves a lot on the field, without forgetting the notion of combat.

That catastrophic start to last season, is it still on your mind?

We are aware that you have to give your best in every competition, otherwise you drag your feet. We’re hoping for August 26, but we haven’t focused on that date yet. We will start talking about it during the course by defining our goals.

For the two warm-up matches, should we expect different teams?

No, we will award our best young people first. Not everyone will be there, but we will give time to those who deserve it. It will be two different teams that will start the friendlies. We have to integrate the new ones and configure our system. In the first match, we will take 33 to 35 players and the same in the second. We are here to put the best. We lack a leader and I want them to come naturally during friendlies.

Are you already focused on this first match of Provence?

I don’t think we should focus only on Provence, but on the first bloc. Three trips for two great receptions. For now, we are taken care of and have goals. We are in preparation mode before we go into predator mode. The captain is still undecided at this time.

What is the big goal of the season?

When you take stock of the last two years, you don’t have the level to aim for the top six places. With all humility, we will work on our shortcomings. Then we’ll go ahead and look for the level of the top six places. At the moment, we don’t have any. We work hard for it. But I am not worried because we are working very well, both the staff and the players. There is a very good working environment, no one has done this preparation. I’m having fun, I don’t see anyone cheating. When there are things to say to each other, we do but we move on. We will see how we react when there is competition. That’s what I’m interested in and we’ll continue to talk things out in all honesty.

To allow the SUA to regain a position in French rugby?

His place, for two years unfortunately, is the laughingstock of everyone. Be part of the records. But that was before. We want to build a very strong and very competitive group. I want to try to unite our fans and partners around the team, but that requires good results. You also need to invest on the ground to bring people to the stadium. We must return to the club in its place.

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