“Sharing our experience”: Romain Poite tells us more about his new life at RCT

With his yellow chasuble he clings to the players. No whistles, but Romain Poite still retains some reflections of his old life.

The former international referee, now 46, joined the ranks of Toulon during the low season in order to bring his science to the technical team as a in charge of the discipline and the technical adaptation to the norms “.

After the warm session on Monday afternoon, the man in black sat down next to us to decipher his role and commitment to the RCT.

How was your arrival in Toulon?

The first contacts were made during last season. We quickly found an alignment with my view of the position and that of the president and staff. Discussions have advanced to find an end just before the resumption.

What exactly is your role within this staff?

For now, this is what is written in it: it is in relation to arbitration and the rule, but also attitudes in contact. Richie Gray is in charge, but I’m in charge. After a week, we are still groping. I’m also looking for my place a bit, because I change from a world where I had deep roots and knowledge, and there I enter a universe where I don’t want to take the place that doesn’t reserve me. and most of all I want to show that I can give the best of myself. It’s a balance to find, it will take a while but not too much because the championship will come very fast.

In today’s session we saw you hook up with the players. What were your words?

It is especially for the respect of the instructions, to insist on the communication between them, the respect of the norm and the application of everything what is asked to them in the attitudes. It’s still a bit slow, but we need to be there to remind us, so that in matches it’s easier and above all more natural. As I get closer to them, I also take over from the coaches.

What is your relationship with Franck Azéma or Pierre Mignoni?

If I think I haven’t practiced Franck as a player, I’ve refereed a lot on Pierre (take a smile) and as coaches, obviously, I met both of them. There was a lot of reciprocity in the way we saw things. Beyond that, the human aspect was also very important. I quickly felt comfortable with all the staff people.

Will you also have, in your prerogatives, the analysis of your former teammates during the preparation of the matches?

I think there will be a return to that. Then we will have to see according to the will of Pierre and Franck. But I always start from the principle that it is easier to take care of yourself than others. We will first focus on the attitudes and image our players send us, before looking at what others are doing.

Will your role also be transversal to the club?

This is the foundation of my relationship with Bernard Lemaitre. From the beginning we found an alignment in this transverse position. I don’t forbid myself from working with all the teams, mostly because I will pass my coaching diploma. I will be able to feed myself from the professional sector, the Espoirs, the training center … In addition, this work must allow the players to reach the professionals and be prepared with the mastery of the rules and attitudes.

If your end of career was scheduled, would you plan to switch to a position like this?

I didn’t have any screenings until people became interested in my past as a referee, thinking I could contribute something to a club. From the first contacts, I wondered why not. The experience we can have consulting with clubs at the beginning of the season or, as I was able to delve into with a Top 14 club (Stade Français) last season, showed me that there could be room to complete the vision. of coaches in relation to the norm but also with the convictions one may have. A referee is the first spectator of the match, we learn during the matches, but also during the analysis and video feedback. Why not try the experiment in the hope that it will be effective and legitimate.

Did Alexandre Ruiz’s experience in Montpellier change things?

I like to remember that if Montpellier is not champion of France just for the presence of Alexandre Ruiz, it is also thanks to him in part! Alex had long been focused on training, it was a vocation for him. He dug the groove, he is a bit of the forerunner of this approach with the passage of refereeing to the game. Some fans have to ask questions but it’s kind of a continuity. In fact, it’s pretty natural. When you are a referee, you analyze the team’s game on video so as not to get in the way and try to be as reactive as possible so as not to put yourself in danger when making a decision. We can share our experience.

The relationship with the players will also evolve. You will no longer have the authority to whistle! How do you see it in the first sessions?

At the beginning of my career, I was pretty stupid, I admit. Then, I always evolved to try to have good relationships with the guys, plus that was the case with the passing of the seasons. Then, like all corporations, there are people you like and others you don’t. However, chance did things right because during last season I never refereed Toulon. So I arrived on neutral ground and not responsibly (River). Here in Toulon, I had no problem integrating, there is proximity as there was on the ground. As long as the players respect the role, be it referee or coach, there is no problem. We all revolve around the same passion for 80 minutes and we all have an interest in having good relationships.

Precisely to get back to your career as a referee, how did you get started?

It was simply my father who put my foot in the stirrup when I was in Crabos. Professionally (was police), they asked me not to play because it could hurt me. So I resorted to arbitration but without any ambition. At the start, when I take stock, I tell myself that it hasn’t been bad at all.

Arbitration means making decisions that are sometimes challenged. How did you keep a cool head?

As soon as you are part of the public landscape, you have to understand that you can be judged. Then the criticism is daily in arbitration. Either we put ourselves in adversity and do not move forward, or we tell ourselves that we can think things differently, change processes … I have always taken criticism in a positive way to move forward. I will not be in the criticism of my peers. I know where I come from and I hope I don’t forget it.

You will rediscover the Mayol Stadium from another perspective. Was it a particular stadium when you were still a referee?

Some atmospheres are a little more acidic than others, but we knew that. We prefer this to mild environments. Then, as we said during the Covid, it finally feels good to be insulted instead of being in empty stadiums. Here, it has always been a beautiful atmosphere, I will discover it in a different position. I received a very nice welcome when I came before signing. To be honest, I was even surprised that people were happy, because I wasn’t very popular in Toulon (take a smile).

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