Top 14. Joan Caudullo: “In 2011 in Montpellier we considered Fabien Galthié a star”

Former MHR player Joan Caudullo returned to the 2011 final against Stade Tolousain. (© Icon Sports)

News: Joan, how are you today?

Joan Caudullo: I have been the director of the MHR training center since 2020. After 9 seasons in Montpellier and 5 in Mont-de-Marsan, I returned to the basics after having already discovered this position with the Montois. I love detecting potential, I passed my first diplomas at the age of 20. It is a very interesting job, and in Montpellier we have the means to have a very good quality youth policy.

Especially because in recent months several aspirants have joined the ranks of the first team?

JC: It’s a global project, Montpellier lived in a time when titles were wanted a little too fast. We have returned to the essentials, training has always been part of the club. Some profiles have started to emerge (Bévia, Foursans, Vallée, etc.), and we have a staff that does not hesitate to take risks to develop them to the highest level.

Does Montpellier’s qualification for this weekend’s final necessarily bring you back to the one you experienced in 2011 as a Cist player?

JC: This is the best moment of my career, some fabulous ties unite us. We had started the preparation very early in May. Fabien Galthié had just arrived, they considered him a star. He put a game in place, structures and the results came quickly. We had little experience, but the mood was remarkable.

Tell us about these final phases lived from within?

JC: Already a play-off in Castres, it was historic for Montpellier with a first classification for the final phase of the Top 14. Romain Teulet had missed a crucial penalty in the end, and we won Pierre-Antoine. Then the great memory of the Stade Vélodrome in the semifinals. Our fans had responded to Racing 92, which started by showing their ambitions. We hadn’t necessarily hidden either, but that day was a beautiful step.

After their victory against Bordeaux, Montpellier reached the final of the Top 14 for the third time in its history.
After their victory against Bordeaux, Montpellier reached the final of the Top 14 for the third time in its history. (© Icon Sports)

In 2011 we ran out of gas in the engine to go all the way

Joan CaudulloFormer player and current director of the Montpellier training center

Until the final result and the defeat against Stade Toulousain (15-10) at the Stade de France?

JC: Not a good memory, of course, I still remember Galthié’s speech on the bus back after the victory against Racing. That we should not regret anything and I think that with the excitement of the moment, we do not necessarily believe in our possibilities even if they bring us very close. We ran out of gas on the engine to get to the end anyway.

Do you have any anecdotes to reveal during this historic 2011 Cist season finale?

JC: There are times when you can’t tell, it’s impossible! Otherwise, we were one day training at Saint-Girons that Éric Béchu had carefully prepared for the low season. The facilities were new, so Sébastien Chobet had decided to dress up as Santa Claus. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed everyone. Well after grabbing a nice fridge for a while, but it was a lot of fun! It was our functioning, like those who did not play but who actively participated in the life of the group.

Even if he doesn’t play a minute of the final, if successful, Fufu will be able to wield the Brennus Shield with immense pride.

Joan CaudulloFormer prostitute from Montpellier, finalist in the Top 14 in 2011

What is the current situation of the club a few days before the final against Castres?

JC: I find that there is no effervescence but it is positive. I don’t know how it happened in 2018, where I was one of the people like so many who didn’t see how Castres could beat Montpellier. From my position, I see a real 50/50, and I feel the maximum concentration. Philippe Saint-André insisted that it was a normal week and that we should be focused on the D-Day event.

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A word on the retreat of the iconic Captain Fulgence Ouedraogo?

JC: I had already taken my bracelet by the time we played! At the European Cup, “Fufu” had become a captain, he may have made the world laugh at first but after a few encounters, everyone quickly realized the phenomenon. Between an early maturity and an impeccable behavior in the meadow, Fulgence made everyone agree that this was not necessarily always the case for me (laughs). No one should go beyond what he did in Montpellier. And even if he doesn’t play a minute of the final, if he succeeds, he will be able to wave the Brennus Shield with immense pride.

Interview with Guillaume PACO

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