La Rochelle still in search of consistency

After two finals lost last year, Stade Rochelais is struggling to string together good performances this season. Which could be crippling in the Champions Cup.

A blow to the place, a blow to the reverse. Stade Rochelais is still looking for itself at the start of the season. The painful end of last season, with the Champions Cup and Top 14 finals all lost against Toulouse, seems to have marked the Maritimes. Delayed ignition (3 setbacks entering the Top 14) and difficulties away from home (a success at Brive for five defeats) illustrate the difficulties in La Rochelle to get the machine going. The third line of the Blues, Grégory Alldritt, himself stressed that it had been difficult to digest this end of the season without a title. “There were quite a few disappointments. I think like my team, we struggled a bit at the start, he recently confided. But, little by little, we find the right path and we try to raise our heads. “

“I don’t know the word in French, but we were like we say ‘hungover’ (having a hangover, Editor’s note) after the two defeats in the final. And, for me, it’s normal, because we don’t have the culture or the history in this magnificent club, for the moment, For his part, recognizes manager Ronan O’Gara in an interview with the EPCR. But that will change. For me, in each defeat, you learn a lot more things than in a victory. “

The idea is to move the ball so that our opponent gets tired. We also use our forwards a lot to physically hurt the opponent

Jules Favre

The last quack to date? A defeat on the lawn of the Stade Français (25-20), after leading by fourteen points and scoring three tries in the first half hour of play. “We played thirty minutes and then we suffered. We fell back a bit into our faults. We have to use this for the future», Recognized hooker Pierre Bourgarit. And Ronan O’Gara to concede: “Our beginnings were average. Finally, I hope that it is calculated and that we will speed up now.»

Become a more “playful” team

Since the start of the season, La Rochelle no longer looks like last season’s steamroller, which crushed in front and suffocated behind. Under the leadership of O’Gara, the caravel club began to change its game. Hold more the ball, chain the playing times rather than favoring the game at the foot of pressure. To become a more “playful” team, which was the hallmark of La Rochelle when it broke through at the highest level under the leadership of Patrice Collazo and Xavier Garbajosa. “The idea is to move the ball so that our opponent gets tired. We also use our forwards a lot to physically hurt the opponent. All of this opens up spaces, breaches. A lot of our tests took place after sequences of two or three minutes ”, thus explained the Jules Favre center in the columns of The team.

I think after two weeks we will know a lot of things, if we are alive or if we are dead

Ronan O’Gara

So comes the Champions Cup and its shortened format with two round-trip confrontations during the group stage. The reception in Glasgow then a perilous trip to the English Wasps. No room for error for the vice-champion of Europe. “The idea of ​​having a sprint in the Champions Cup, like in Formula 1, is extremely exciting and exciting”Ronan O’Gara says. The Irish technician, alone at the head of the team after the departure of Jono Gibbes in Clermont, knows what awaits his family: “Basically, we kill or we are killed. We must keep this state of mind for the following week in Bath. And I think that after two weeks, we will know a lot of things, if we are alive or if we are dead.»

Support from Deflandre

Sunday, the Maritimes will have the advantage of starting their continental campaign in their den of Marcel-Deflandre. Weight support. As New Zealand scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow acknowledges: “I think we have the best supporters in the world, in La Rochelle, and it’s much more difficult for our opponents to meet us when we have 16,000 supporters behind us. They try to give us their energy and they push us behind the test line.“Ronan O’Gara is in the same state of mind:”Our first game is at home, it’s an opportunity for us to start quickly and show our level. But for Glasgow, that means they will get here without pressure, with nothing to lose and they will attack us. But that’s normal, we are in the Champions Cup, it’s the deep end.»Beware of entry drowning.

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