Even in the tone of the joke, it is always better to avoid humiliating a wounded animal. The Stade Français learned this the hard way on Sunday evening, receiving on its lawn at the Jean-Bouin stadium a lesson in motivation, determination and pugnacity from its oldest rival, Racing, triumphant at the door. of Auteuil (13-17). The boomerang returned to him in the form of a full-face helmet, worn by Laurent Travers, the manager of Ciel et Blanc, at a press conference, a few minutes after the final whistle.
“It’s a challenge launched by my players, he let go, with a small smile, placing the object of curiosity on the table. We said that Racing was Karting and that it was Formula 1. So they challenged me to wear a helmet if they won. I respond to their challenge. It’s a way of emphasizing that top-level sport is above all about humility. I put it there because we have just finished the race, and the karting held up. »
What the Parisian club may have missed, which had sent a message to its subscribers by email during the week in order to present the derby in a playful way. “Thunderbolt to Jean-Bouin, was it written. The Paris derby on Sunday is: the capital receives the suburbs; the 3rd against the 8th; F1 against karting (we remind you of the score of the first leg? 48-10, 5 tries to 1). This last comparison did not go over to Hauts-de-Seine.
“The players were starving”
It does not explain on its own, however, the exacerbated commitment of the Racingmen. Mocked for their sieve defense and their lack of involvement this season, the last under the leadership of Laurent Travers, who will become chairman of the management board and will be replaced in his post as manager by Stuart Lancaster, the English coach of Leinster, the Irish province , from July, the Ciel et Blancs were also keen to stay in the race for qualification despite their chaotic journey.
“We showed that we still had virtues, underlined the coach. The players were starving. But we are lucid about our situation. We are not qualified (5 days from the end, Racing is 7th, 1 point behind Toulon, 6th and last qualified for the final phase) and we are behind Stade Français (3rd with 5 more points). The Ile-de-France residents are revived, but not close to boasting. “There were times when we were close to cracking,” said Laurent Travers. We could have let go but on the contrary, the players transcended themselves. For them, as for the staff, what matters is our goal of finishing in the top six, not the two games against Stade Français. »
The next day of Top 14 will give the Ile-de-France residents the opportunity to get closer. If they dominate Bordeaux-Bègles on Saturday April 15 during a relocated meeting at the Bollaert stadium in Lens, they will indeed return to the club of six. In the meantime, the Racingmen are preparing for a long journey. From this Tuesday they will fly to South Africa where they will play their round of 16 Challenge Cup – the small European Cup – on Saturday against the Johannesburg Lions, with a quarter-final in sight at the weekend. following. Another way to check if they are more Karting or Formula 1.