For the first time this season, today the senior pros trained in live opposition with a game against the Espoirs. A clash which left a big impression on the Espoirs scrum-half, Xavier Chauveau
In what is a departure from their usual schedule, today’s training session for the Ciel et Blanc took the form of a live opposition against the Espoirs. A no holds barred contest which enabled the pros to work on several facets of their game before the game in Perpignan. And which also allowed the Espoirs to measure the gap that still separates them from the top level.
Admittedly, our Espoirs are often used as opposition, line by line, but before this morning’s work-out, the two teams had never played against each other in a game situation. Not to mention a game controlled by a real referee, Jean Lespes.
Delighted to have this opportunity to measure himself against his elders in live combat, the Espoirs scrum-half Xavier Chauveau (21) could hardly believe it when he came off the pitch. “We try not to be too overwhelmed beforehand, and during the game we try to be competitive above all by relying on our team-work,” he said. “For us, to play against the pros is hugely motivating; it’s a chance to get the taste of a level which is far higher level than the one we encounter every weekend in Espoirs.”
With certain sequences of play lasting longer than three minutes, what impressed Xavier the most was the speed of execution and the intensity of the contest in the rucks. “You really feel it, the impacts are amazing!” he admitted. “There is a huge difference between us, but we are all determined to make that leap, and to show that we are capable of taking our game to the next level.”
Nevertheless, some of the Espoirs came through the exercise with flying colours, and along with centre Etienne Dussartre, Chauveau may well come into the squad for the game against Perpignan on February 8th.
Whatever happens, for the Ciel et Blanc coaching staff, today’s live opposition was a successful experiment. “We will do it again,” insisted Laurent Labit. “Maybe not every week. But we will do it again.” The Espoirs can hardly wait.
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Saturday 26th August