At the beginning of October, the coronavirus raged in the ranks of Racing 92. Several positive cases had also resulted in the postponement of the match at the Stade Rochelais. Reprogrammed this Sunday (9:05 pm, Canal +), this duel of the 3rd day has become a shock at the top between the leader of the Top 14 and the Ciel et Blanc (6th).
La Rochelle, an impregnable fortress?
We have to go back to March 24, 2019 to see traces of a defeat for La Rochelle at home (19-23 against Stade Toulouse). Since then, the Charente-Maritime club remains on an impressive series of 15 successes at the Marcel-Deflandre stadium, including a scathing against Castres (62-3) on October 17. Despite the absence of an audience that “gives them extra soul”, according to racing hooker Kevin Le Guen who played there, the team of former Irish international Ronan O’Gara will also certainly have at heart ‘erase the backhand at Stade Français (35-13). “We know where we are going to set foot, notes Laurent Travers, Racing manager. He is not a leader by chance. “
Remember nine months ago
The context is of course different with this away match and the absence of about fifteen players, between the internationals and the injured, sky and white side. But Racing had torpedoed Stade Rochelais (49-0) during the last confrontation between the two clubs in the league, on February 29, 2020, just before the Top 14 was stopped due to a pandemic. “We travel with great respect for the status of La Rochelle but also with confidence and ambition,” confides the center and captain Henry Chavancy. Apart from the defeat against Toulouse (24-30 on October 10) and the small hitch in Castres (28-26 on October 31), we proved that we were able to respond to any players on the scoresheet. . A big test awaits us… ”
A rejuvenated team on the sky and white side
If Racing must win because “we are more in reaction than in action”, according to Laurent Travers, it will once again draw on its pool of young people. With in particular the presence of scrum half Nolann Le Garrec, established for the first time this season. “We have about fifteen absent but we are not going to feel sorry for our fate. Especially since we are lucky and fortunate to have a workforce of very high quality young people, ”considers the racingman manager, who also welcomes the contract extensions. These relate to pillar Gia Kharaishvili, 2nd lines Dominic Bird and Boris Palu, opener Finn Russel, center Olivier Klemenczak, and winger Dorian Laborde. “The priority is to keep our players, we want to remain stable, that everyone is a win-win, concludes Travers. Depending on the departures, we will make sure to compensate. “
STADE ROCHELAIS – RACING 92
Sunday (9:05 p.m., Canal +)
Game behind closed doors.
Racing : Zebo – Laborde, Klmenczak, Chavancy, Taofifenua – (o) Trinh-Duc, (m) Le Garrec – Diallo, Sanconnie, Lauret – Bird, Rayan – Oz, Le Guen, Kolingar. Entr. : Through.