Xavier Garbajosa, new coach of the LOU: “The Lyon game speaks to me”

After the resumption of training last Friday followed by a mini integration course in the mountains over the weekend, Yann Roubert, president of LOU, and Xavier Garbajosa, the new manager, presented the ambitions for the season. For Pierre Mignoni’s successor, the priority will be to find the final phase of the Top 14 after a last season between highs – victory in the Challenge Cup – and lows – ninth place in the league.

“How do you see the end of the LOU season with this victory against Toulon in the Challenge Cup final followed one week after a defeat against La Rochelle that deprived the club of the final phase?
Lyon probably lacked freshness. It’s hard to have it both ways. The Challenge Cup victory gave a lot of energy. Too much to achieve the goal set in the Top 14, but the European title was a form of relief, something fantastic for the club, the squad, the players, the public.

Does that mean we will have to make decisions in the Champions Cup and the Top 14?
The priority goal is to return to the final phase of the Top 14, but you can’t abuse a European Cup, even less so when you have the opportunity to play with Saracens and Bulls. The European target will be adapted based on the results. If you lose the first game, especially at home, you know the classification is complicated. We will take this into account.

Lyon’s recruitment is mostly foreign with three New Zealand players (Liam Coltman, Josiah Maraku and Fletcher Smith who should sign up as medical pranksters while Lima Sopoaga has to have knee surgery), a South African (Arno Botha), an Australian (Kyle Godwin). ) and two Frenchmen (Paulo Tafili and Maxime Gouzou). Did you want to?
Yes and no. My arrival was late and it is not easy to replace a Charlie Ngatai or a Pierre-Louis Barassi. There was research work in relation to needs. We had to make decisions without knowing the team perfectly and at a time when there were few or no French players in the market. We had to find personalities and rugby players adaptable to the group and the game we want to launch, which is no different from last year, which is part of Lyon’s identity.

“But my experience has shown me that you need to know how to analyze a context, an environment to adapt to it. I’m in an observation period “

Find a bank a year and a half later, in what mood?
I’m very excited. I really wanted to rediscover this atmosphere, to plan training sessions, to talk about rugby, to talk to the players, the squad … I missed it. I discovered an enthusiastic and fresh group after five weeks of vacation because last season had been very long. Here we are in a period of preparation. We also discover ourselves. We stayed alert with the heat wave and adapted starting the sessions at 7:30 am.

What do you think you can bring?
It would be pretentious to say that I will wear this or that. I have my personality, my convictions. But my experience has shown me that you need to know how to analyze a context, an environment to adapt to it. I am in a period of observation. I watch how my staff works, I argue with them to have the best options. I look, I observe, I listen, I exchange to do my analysis. Then, with my personality, my convictions, I will try to bring this little extra to improve certain areas of the game.

Succeeding Pierre Mignoni’s seven-year term, which ended with a Challenge Cup title, pressures you?
I don’t see it as a pressure, but the pleasure of getting back on the field. I come to a healthy club that has been progressing step by step with Pierre. There is no pressure, just a desire to do well, to grow, to continue developing the image of the club, to establish this culture, this identity. There is no pressure to seek to contribute. This opportunity to manage the LOU is all the more interesting for me, as the game that Lyon practices suits me in all aspects. I grew up in the game in motion, this game speaks to me, this identity corresponds to me. It was important in my choice to come here. »

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