Thrust into the limelight following the season-ending injury to our captain Dimitri Szarzewski, Virgile Lacombe more than fulfilled his role, scoring two tries against Biarritz. For the ex-Toulouse hooker, however, there is plenty more work to be done if the Ciel et Blanc are to have a chance of beating Clermont this Saturday (6.30pm) at Colombes.
Virgile, first of all congratulations! It is not every day that a hooker scores two tries in a TOP 14 game. But now here you are with four tries, the season’s second top try-scorer after Marc Andreu…
Thanks, but I as we haven’t scored many tries all season, it’s not that difficult to be the second on the try-scoring chart! (Laughs). Both tries were scored from rolling mauls, it’s a collective effort, but it does prove that up-front, everyone was doing his job properly. For me, it’s above all indicative of our team-work which performed well, and which has been doing so for several weeks. Biarritz came to try and have a bit of fun and to run everything, so they put a little less accent on the rolling mauls. We on the other hand really tried to work on that sector and it worked. As for me, I am just the guy who guides the ball in the rolling maul.
When Dimitri announced to you all in the change room after the match that his season was over, it was a difficult moment for the whole team. Do you feel especially effected by his absence?
Naturally. Because I could have been in his position. Injuries are part of the game, but it is always a difficult thing time to go through. As for me, I have been at the ready since the beginning of the season, so I will do my utmost to at least be up to his level, and hope that people won’t see too much difference between his absence and my presence. As for ‘Dim’, he remains the team captain. Since the season began he has been the leader, he is the one who makes the decisions. Today, other players will take on that role, while I will try to accentuate my role as scrum captain, and have that role amongst the forwards.
So is it fair to say that for you it’s something of a challenge for the end of the season?
Yes. For me it’s an exciting challenge! I have already been in this situation in previous clubs : I was always ready in case the player ahead of me got injured. Even if those ahead of me are internationals, I try to prove that I am not there purely by chance. Voilà, I’ve got my chance. It’s up to me to take it!
On Saturday the Ciel et Blanc will take on Clermont. How do you see the duel against the Auvergnats going?
We are about to go from playing Biarritz to playing Clermont, so there’s going to be a huge difference. And I hope that all the players are aware that this week our preparation has to be spot-on. Clermont is a mighty team, very well structured, with quality players in all positions, who all know each other well. It’s always difficult to play against a team as well-oiled as Clermont, precisely because in whatever they do they are always a step ahead. Whether in the organisation in the rucks, in defence, and so on.
And yet, in the second half against Biarritz, it seemed as if Racing was at last playing at its proper level. What do you think?
I don’t know if we have reached our level yet, but what I do know is that the only games we have left are all difficult. And difficult games are won in the detail. We have to be at our level, but most of all we have to be very concentrated and highly committed if we are to keep our hopes alive. We are going to need commitment, concentration and discipline in everything we do. Whether it be a starter move, a pass or a clean-out, we cannot allow ourselves to be average. If we want to beat Clermont, we have to be perfect in everything.
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