With his superbly judged cross-field kick for Juan Imhoff to score the final try, last Saturday against Clermont Fabrice Estebanez played his role as a replacement to perfection. The international Ciel et Blanc three-quarter shares his thoughts on the win (22-6) against ASM, and looks forward to the away game against Montpellier on May 3rd. (Credit photo : Julien Poupart // Attitude Rugby)
Fabrice, it is said that you hate being on the bench. And yet by playing a decisive role in Saturday’s win, were you not the perfect replacement?
It’s true; I don’t like it (Laughs). I am a competitor, so when I’m on the bench sometimes it annoys me. But it only annoys me early in the week, afterwards, when the team is announced I get my head around the role, and I do everything I can to help the team. Last Saturday I came on quite early because Henry unfortunately got injured at the start of the match, but I just tried to contribute as much as I could to the team, in order to win this crucial game.
Your cross-kick that brought about Juan Imhoff’s try was textbook stuff. Could you talk us through it?
We had a good sequence of play, from right to left, then Jamie broke the line and made about 15 metres into the heart of the opposition defence. There was a quick ball from the ruck, I got the ball, and I could see Aurélien Rougerie coming up really flat. He was thinking that I would pass straight away to Juan, but I took the decision to put the kick in behind him. And with his pace, Juan caught the ball, then mystified Morgan Parra before scoring the try.
It looked like something you had practised at training. Is that the case?
No, not at all. At times like that, you have very little time to analyse the situation. But I knew I had the two Juans (Imhoff and Hernandez) outside me, it was a ‘three-on-three’, I could see Rougerie was a little out of position, and when he shot up, there was space in behind. So, as Juan runs a little faster than me, I simply chipped the ball over the top for him! (Laughs)
But apart from that, personally I would like to thank all our supporters who were cheering us on last Saturday. It’s great to see Colombes like that! The longer the season goes on, more and more people are coming to watch us at Colombes. They realise that it’s a club with a family atmosphere, where everyone is welcome. We are not yet guaranteed to get a play-off on our home pitch. But it would be awesome for everyone, for the whole club, to be able to offer our public a home quarterfinal. So we can end the season with a big party in Colombes!
In the meantime, thanks to the win against ASM, Racing Metro 92 has now qualified for the knockout stages of the TOP 14. What is the ambience like inside the team?
The ambience is great, most of all it is really positive. Since the beginning of the season, we have been working hard, we have been through difficult times, but we never stopped working. These last few weeks things have been a bit better in terms of our ranking, but what has been really great is that the guys are twice as focused as before. We are working even harder to get rid of our defects and to play even better in the final games.
For the last round on May 3rd, the Ciel et Blanc take on Montpellier away. Are you already thinking about it?
Of course, we are already talking about it amongst ourselves! It’s going to be a tough game, a complicated game. Montpellier is a very very good team, they are looking very strong at the moment, so we will just have to go there and try and play the best match possible. I don’t know whether we can beat them, but we will try and bring ourselves up to the level of a team like that. We will just have to tally up the points when it’s over, in the hope that we can play one final game at home in Colombes.
What about the final of the TOP 14? Have you started thinking about that as well?
Obviously! All season you work hard for that, to go right to the end. We still have a long way to go, there are potentially four more games to play. But first of all, we will just play Montpellier and see what happens next. Our aim was to qualify in the top Six. Today we have done it: even if it has been a long hard season, we have reached our goal. Because everyone has given their utmost. Whether it be the coaching staff, the players, or the office staff. It is also a reward for the club as a whole, for all those people who have worked hard all season. All those who you never see, who work in the offices, they are always spurring us on. I just hope that we go as far as possible, for us obviously. But also for all the people who make up the club.
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