Ten days away from a crucial encounter at Stade des Alpes, Laurent Labit, co-coach of Racing, is delighted by the spirit within the team. And reveals why next week the Ciel et Blanc will leave on a special three-day training camp to prepare for the game against Grenoble. (Credit photo : Fabrice Aygalenq // Attitude Rugby)
Laurent, the team split up on the evening of the win against Castres (25-15) at Colombes. Looking back, what were the lessons learned from that success?
The match against Castres was satisfying on many fronts, but it also validated a lot of positive things that we could feel falling into place for some weeks. Firstly in terms of our game plan, both on attack and on defence. Once again, there were no tries scored against us, but at the same time we scored two, and could well have scored a third. But it was also positive in terms of the team spirit: you could feel that all the players, even those who weren’t on the field of play, were committed and concerned. In the changing room after the match you could feel that something was happening, that this group was starting to click.
Since then, everyone has had a week’s holiday. Has the rest been beneficial for the players?
Yes, I think everyone needed a break. But this week at training, the players have come back fully refreshed and full of enthusiasm. Usually it is quite difficult to manage weeks when there is no game on the weekend, you have to push the guys a bit more. But this week is just as if we have a match on Saturday. You can feel the excitement, the players are excited and impatient, they can’t wait to play again and to get back into it. And that is really positive.
When you are still ten days away from the game, how exactly do you prepare for the match against Grenoble?
We are working on all our systems, both on attack and defence, and of course the ball-winning phases. As for physical fitness and weight-lifting, we can put more effort into it this week, and that will allow us to concentrate on the fine-tuning and staying fresh next week.
As an exception, to prepare for Grenoble you have decided to go on a special three-day training camp next week. Why ?
Because it is a very, very important game! Our next two games, against Grenoble and Stade Français, are obviously crucial. But most of all, Grenoble comes just after the Six Nations Championship, and it means that we can go away with the whole squad, be on our own for three days, so the players can live together, bond, talk amongst themselves, and rest together. After the international window, with nine or ten internationals away from the club, the group also needs to find itself again before such a big game at Stade des Alpes.
So what frame of mind will you be in as you travel to Grenoble ?
It’s simple: we have to go there with the ambition of winning the game. There are five rounds left, we are behind on the points table and we are only two points ahead of Grenoble. Obviously they are direct rivals in the race for qualification, so we have to prepare for the game as seriously as possible. We know we will be coming up against an opponent who also wants to get a taste of the final phases. Of course it will be difficult, but I believe we have the means, and the players, to get a result in Grenoble.
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Saturday 26th August