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Quesada under pressure at Stade Français: “I knew which club I was coming back to”

After three heavy setbacks to start his season, the Parisian manager is playing big, Saturday, with the reception of Castres to Jean-Bouin.

How did the Stade Français week go after the defeat in Toulon?
Gonzalo Quesada: In fact, it’s a 48 hour week. This is the difficulty when you play outside on Sunday evening and then go on the following Saturday at 3 p.m. We arrived on Monday around 4 p.m. in Paris, we left the recovery Tuesday, we only had one meeting. We trained a little Wednesday, a little Thursday and Friday, it’s off. In 48 hours, we tried to get to the point, to recover well to prepare for this super important match (Saturday against Castres). It went well, we have fewer sick players, even if there are many who still cough. But it’s doing better than last week, that’s the good news. We will be in better shape than in Toulon.

How is the atmosphere within the group? Tense?
Obviously, we are tense in the sense that we do not want to question everything. But we don’t lie to each other either. We were very lucid, very honest with ourselves. We know that some people saw us as more beautiful than what we really are, but we did not play at the level that we are capable of. We were not up to the level to compete in our first three matches. We didn’t dwell on the excuses, we told each other the truth. We prepared without lying, while staying the course. We didn’t throw it all away, we didn’t change everything. We know that the Top 14 is very tough. We were tense after the defeat in the derby (against Racing 92), because with two trips afterwards, it put us in a complicated dynamic. We went through these three matches, we know that there are some super positive moments in these three matches. On the other hand, we keep this image of a team that puts itself in danger on its own. We really made it too easy for our opponents. We are aware that we are going to play against a team that has not yet lost (2 wins, one draw). They are in full confidence, in a dynamic opposite to ours. We will be ready for this big challenge.

Our management of the game, which was a problem at the start of last season, still is. We don’t hide.

Gonzalo Quesada

Last year you had a difficult time, before finishing strong and participating in the finals. Are there any lessons to be learned from this experience?
I haven’t read everything that is written about us, it hurts …(to smile) But you are right to be harsh and critical because our content is disappointing. But last year, we lost in Bordeaux, lost the derby at home and in Toulon, and we qualified. We did not do better in terms of results. We are the same but we do not stop at mathematics. We were very average in our three matches. It puts us on alert. I think there are very few teams that can be ultra-regular, only three or four. Afterwards there are ten clubs which have strong moments and weak moments. There are several reasons why our game is not completely in place. There are things that need to be fixed quickly. Experience shows us that things go very quickly in both directions. We hope to have regained some momentum in a few months. We know what is at stake in the upcoming match: a new defeat would put us in a really complicated situation. We didn’t hide it from ourselves, but we try not to think about it. We need to regain our confidence and our state of mind.

Why did you not manage to surf on the good dynamics of the end of last season?
At the end of the season, we had taken a big blow to the back of the head. We surfed and suddenly there were no more waves … (to smile) The wave stopped at the Arena, we took the synthetic in the teeth. There was a notion of trust that had allowed us to do a good job. After that, it’s not an apology, but our attack is less fluid than last season. It is built around the 10th and the 12th. Joris (Segonds) and Léo Barré attacked the season late, we did 3-4 weeks without our number 10. We quickly tried to make (New Zealander) Laumape understand it. rugby that we play in Europe. But he does not necessarily speak French and our 10 are not English speakers. It took longer than expected. This may explain part (of our problems). After that, there are other reasons, especially about our preparation. We are aware that we have not been at the level. On the pure results, there is no shame in losing these three matches. On the other hand, yes, we cannot afford not to increase our level of performance by several notches. We are aware that it was very average, especially at the end of the game.

Did the players give up at the end of the match? Is there a problem with the atmosphere?
I do not think so. In Bordeaux, we are defending at the end of the first half when we are fourteen. There are only 6-0. There have been several situations like this. On the other hand, we knew that the team, on weak times, could lose ground. It takes time to have benchmarks. It was not acquired at the end of the season. We have to work on these weak times. After three defeats, it’s complicated … But we have things we can build on: our scrum is interesting, our balls carried too. After our management of the game, which was a problem at the start of last season, still is. We don’t hide.

Like all coaches, I have some weaknesses. But the strength is that I take care of what depends on me, the concrete. My players, our game, our staff, our season

Gonzalo Queasda

When the results are not good, the coach is the first fuse. Do you feel in danger?
Honestly, no. We exchange regularly with the leaders on the field, the players, the staff, the management, Thomas (Lombard, the club’s GM) and Doctor Wild. We are aware that we must progress quickly. Personally, I knew which club I was coming back to. By returning with the players and the staff who were in place. We had a more than correct season. We were able to develop the club’s infrastructure, reorganize the staff, rebalance the team for the future. We are in that process. Afterwards, I admit that it’s dangerous for a coach to distract himself with that. Like all coaches, I have some weaknesses. But the strength is that I take care of what depends on me, the concrete. My players, our game, our staff, our season. I don’t let myself be polluted by the rest, that’s how we can go through complicated times.

Do you think you have a large enough workforce?
We lost three matches by not being satisfied with our performance. But in any case, that’s a reason to say that. I think we have a good squad. Is it enough to be at the top of the Top 14 all season and compete in the Champions Cup? Later we shall see. Today, we have a good, very balanced squad. Once again, we have much to do better.

Interview at a press conference


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