A year after a failed season, the ASM, which won the third Challenge Cup in its history, can also add a third Brennus to his list.
By our special correspondent in Bordeaux
France after Europe. The Jaunards, already crowned in Challenge Cup, can make the double European Cup championship if successful Sunday against Toulouse, next Saturday, in the final of the Top 14. "It has never been done at the club, we are at 80 minutes of achieving this double, "says flanker Alexandre Lapandry, 30, who seems to have found a second youth this season. Certainly, this hypothetical pass of two would not have the foil of that achieved by Toulon in 2014, with a title in the "big" European Cup. But all the same, it would confirm that the catastrophic season of last year (no final phase) was only a mishap.
In Auvergne, things have been put flat. Franck Azéma and his staff were able to raise the bar and start again. "We learned a lot from our failures. We even built through this, explains the Auvergne manager. I think the group has matured. We have boys who have been in the club for a long time and have learned a lot from the past, to the point of being able to share them with their teammates. And we also have players of a new generation, arrived in 2017. It is this mixture between young and old, between life and carefree, that makes it is here today.
Against the LOU, the ASM showed control and coolness, even if it was jostled early in the game. "They took us on the start of the match, but we did not panic, we kept the control by being able to absorb that, to be a little deformable, adaptable and, little by little we are income in the game by taking the ascendancy, "continues the Auvergne manager. The habit of big appointments. On attacks placed (after touches), teammates Camille Lopez managed to register two first-hand trials. Which is rather rare in cleaver matches. "To score firsthand is the investment of the whole group. There is a lot of responsibility on the part of the players. It's nice when it works, it's important to take it out at the right time and it makes things a bit easier, "says Franck Azéma.
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The other positives? The Auvergnate scrum, which got six penalties by putting his vis-à-vis to the fault. "Mentally, it always has an impact on the opponent," agrees Azema. "We knew they were very strong in this sector," says international leader Rabah Slimani. I know their coach David (Attoub, former Stade Français), and we knew they were going to focus on it. We worked a lot this week, it was rather successful. "Attention, everything was not perfect. The demanding Azéma continues: "There are many things to erase and improve for next week. We had fifteen minutes where we are more spectator, less actor, we were broken (especially twice by Julien Puricelli, Editor's note), we made mistakes while we turn at half-time eight penalties to one . But what's good is that we do not panic. "
Now remains to challenge the ogre Toulouse who has just signed an exceptional season. "The hardest comes, it will be very strong," warns Alexandre Lapandry. If the Jaunards are finished with their curse of Brennus, they raised in 2010 and 2017, they will have to finish with these Toulouse, who beat them four times in the final (1994, 1999, 2001 and 2008). "This is another challenge to take up," insists the Clermont manager. French rugby will be entitled to a three-star confrontation between the two best teams of the regular season, a first since the introduction of the dams in 2010. "Of course we hear about this poster for a while. Now I do not know what will be the rendering. We know it's a big piece, "acknowledges Franck Azéma. Even bigger than the ASM did not beat this season (20-20 in the Michelin, 47-44 victory at the Stadium). Smile yellow and black eye boss Auvergnat: "It's true, it's true, so they have an ascendant on us …"
(tagsToTranslate) rugby (t) 6 nations (t) six nations (t) top 14 (t) h cup (t) cup d