Dear Friends, Dear Supporters, Dear Sponsors
One season ends, and already another is almost upon us. Three weeks ago, our journey came to an end, losing the TOP 14 semi-finals against Toulon, an impressive foe who went on to retain their title of Champions of Europe before winning the TOP 14 final.
For the last five seasons in TOP 14, Racing Metro 92 has proved its ability to compete with the best teams in France and in Europe. But we cannot be content with that: we want to go even further, to continue our search for excellence and to cross yet another threshold. A threshold that will enable us to imitate our Crabos and Espoirs teams who, as proof of the quality coaching received at Racing, recently triumphed in their respective finals to fill our trophy cabinet in Plessis with two trophies as Champion of France.
Before welcoming the new recruits who will join us over the following weeks, I would like first of all to thank all those who fought tirelessly throughout the season. There were ups and downs, and we have to admit that with a new coaching staff and 17 new players, the first part of the season was more complicated than expected. But in the second part of the season, with the five wins in a row against Castres, Grenoble, Stade Français, Biarritz and Clermont, plus the historic victory against Stade Toulousain in Toulouse in the play-offs, the Ciel et Blanc were able to show the true potential of this team.
Several players are leaving us at the end of this season and heading for new horizons. To Antoine Battut and Benjamin Fall (Montpellier), Jonathan Wisniewski (Grenoble), Fabrice Estebanez, Karim Ghezal and Masi Matadigo (Lyon), Jone Qovu (La Rochelle) and Soane Tonga’uiha (Oyonnax), I wish them all the best both on and off the field.
I would like to make special mention of Simon Raiwalui, who is also leaving us. Arriving from the Saracens in 2007, our Fijian second row was captain of the Ciel et Blanc when we made our historic return to the TOP 14 in 2009. Subsequently becoming team manager, he was won of the last survivors of the adventure in PRO D2. His departure brings to an end a huge page in the history of Racing, but Simon will always remain one of the emblematic players in the history of this club.
I would also like to take this opportunity to emphasise the faithful support of all our sponsors, and more particularly Natixis, the Conseil Général of the Hauts-de-Seine, Assystem, Clarins Men, Scutum, HOP et ISS.
I would also like to thank our supporters for their commitment and fidelity. I remember the time, not so long ago, when only a few hundred people were there to cheer the Ciel et Blanc. They are now counted in their thousands, if not tens of thousands, but their respect for the values of rugby has not changed one iota. They remain the most “fair-play” public in France and once again, I am a president proud of the elegance of his supporters!
Lastly, two weeks ago the Racing Metro 92 family felt the pain of losing one of our members, the young prop William Ebongue Sipamio. He will always remain in our hearts, and we shall honour his memory in two different ways. Firstly our media conference room will from now on be known as “Salle William Ebongue”, and following the season Robert Paparemborde, Michel Crauste, René Crabos, François Moncla et Eric Blanc, the 2014-15 season will be known as “Saison William Ebongue” and our jerseys will have his name embroidered on the sleeve.
Vive le Racing! Vive the 2014-15 season!
Here in alphabetical order, are the new players who will join Racing Metro 92 next season:
- Yoann AUDRIN (wing or centre) : 32 yrs, French Sevens international, formerly from Béziers, Bayonne, Montauban, Castres and Montpellier, played for France A in 2010 and the French Barbarians in 2008 and 2001.
- Luke CHARTERIS (second row) : Welsh international, (31 yrs, 46 caps), winner of the Grand Slam in 2012, formerly from Llanelli Scarlets, Newport Dragons and Perpignan. Currently on tour with Wales in South Africa.
- Antonie CLAASSEN (back row) : South African born French international (29 yrs, 6 caps) formerly from Durban, Pretoria University, Blue Bulls, Brive and Castres. Champion of France with Castres in 2013 and finalist in 2014.
- Thibault DUBARRY (second or back row) : 26 yrs, member of French national academy at Marcoussis in 2005-06, formerly of Brive and Biarritz. Champion of France (Espoirs) with Brive in 2009.
- Brice DULIN (fullback) : French international (24 yrs, 15 caps). Formerly of Agen and Castres, played for France U20. Champion of France with Castres in 2013, and finalist in 2014. Currently on tour with the French XV in Australia.
- Johan GOOSEN (fly-half) : South African international (21 yrs, 5 caps) a product of the famous Grey College in Bloemfontein and the Free State Cheetahs, played his first game for the Springboks at age 20. Currently with the Springboks in South Africa.
- Casey LAULALA (centre) : Samoan-born New Zealand international (32 yrs, 2 caps) a product of the famous Wesley College, formerly of Counties, Canterbury, Cardiff and Munster, winner of 3 Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders.
- Anton PEIKRISHVILI (prop) : Georgian international (26 yrs, 12 caps), able to play loose-head or tight-head, formerly from Agen, and Castres. Champion of France with Castres in 2013.
- Teddy THOMAS (wing) : French Sevens international, 20 yrs, formerly from Biarritz, member of the French national academy in 2011-12, picked for France U18, U19, U20.
As evidenced by the two French Champion titles won by our Crabos (U19) and Espoirs (Senior Reserve), and the four young players called into the French national academy at Marcoussis, the investment in youth coaching at Racing is beginning to bear fruit. Without counting Teddy Thomas (20 yrs) no fewer than 10 young players, Senior Reserves or from the Racing Academy will sign professional contracts and train with the senior pros. These are: Xavier Chauveau, Cedate Gomez Sa, Remi Bourdeau, Luc Barba, Arthur Retière, Camille Chat, Lucas Chouvet, Etienne Dussartre, Alexis Valette, Khatchick Vartanov. As for the even younger players, last weekend in an exceptional feat, our TWO U15 sides, from Colombes and Plessis both took part in the Super Challenge in Agen, a veritable national championship for this age group.
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Saturday 26th August