As usual, on Saturday at Colombes, Dimitri Szarzewski was at the heart of the Ciel et Blanc victory against Castres (25-15). Picking up an ankle injury which has forced him to withdraw from the Scotland – France game in Edinburgh, our skipper looks back on the success against the reigning French champions. And the nail-biting end of season which beckons the Ciel et Blanc. (Credit photo : Fabrice Aygalenq //Attitude Rugby)
First of all Dimitri, how is your ankle?
It's coming along fine. I was using crutches for 48 hours to avoid putting any weight on it, but since this morning (Tuesday) I am walking without crutches. I've got a slightly sprained ankle and a blow to the fibula, but the swelling has already gone down and the good news is that there is no damage to the ligament! I'm getting treatment here at the club, I have even taken some physio equipment home so I can continue the treatment chez moi and I'll get an update with the medical staff in a few days. But I should be able to start running again this weekend, and I hope to be available for selection against Ireland on March 15th.
On Saturday Racing Metro 92 came out 25-15 winners against the French champions. Is this the most complete performance of the season?
Yes. It is undoubtedly our most complete game, alongside our win against Toulouse at Stade de France (25-5). We got off to a good start, we tried to play on the front foot, we were immediately able to create the link between forwards and backs, and we got early points on the board. And that’s what gave us confidence.
In terms of the game plan, what were you trying to achieve in this match?
The message, quite simply, was to play at pace and to win the duels. And we could see that it worked. We got quick ball, which enabled us to play some rugby, and create several sequences of play. It’s simple: when you get quick ball and you play on the front foot, rugby becomes a much easier game. Up front we dominated, we were good at lineout and scrum, and when you play rugby like that, it is much easier.
Still, you missed out on the attacking bonus point. Not too many regrets at letting that opportunity slip?
Fair comment. Given our commitment and the early lead we could have done better. But we were playing against Castres, the reigning French champions, who never gave up. We kept at it right up until the end of the game, but they kept in touch on the scoreboard. It’s a pity because we scored a second try and we had the opportunity of adding a third. I just hope that we can continue to play like that. We are not yet in the ‘Six’, but we are not going to give up now. We’ve got five games left until the end of the season, and we are going to give them our all. There is no point having any regrets, we still have our fate in our hands and that is the most important.
It also seems that against Castres, things are finally starting to fall into place for the Ciel et Blanc…
Yes, you can feel it, we are getting better and better. The week before, in Bordeaux, we were beaten in terms of aggression. But when we add the vital ingredients, when we respect the fundamentals of rugby, as well as managing to find a little more cohesion and play together, we are able to do great things. We have to continue believing in ourselves, continue getting better, without too many doubts from here on. If we do that, I am convinced we will produce some great games.
In other words, all this is a good basis on which to prepare the next game, in Grenoble on March 22nd?
It’s obvious, it’s going to be a very important game. Last Saturday, Grenoble lost to Brive and we have gone ahead of them on the points table. They didn’t get any points from the game and they will be out to make up for the loss. But as I have been saying for several weeks, all our games from here on are sudden death encounters, and Grenoble is going to be yet another. If we want to stay alive, if we want to qualify for the play-offs, we will have to go to Grenoble with ambition, and the intention of imposing ourselves. There is no hiding from the fact, all the teams need points now, and we know it’s going to be very difficult in Grenoble. It is up to us to prepare ourselves properly, and not to let the pressure off. For those players who are on holiday, to recover properly they still need to decompress a little. As long as they never stop thinking about the game in Grenoble!
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Saturday 26th August