French stadium. Thomas Lombard: “It is better to focus on the state of mind of a footballer than his generation”

Thomas Lombard, CEO of Stade Français, explains that he has reviewed his recruitment philosophy to achieve results. (©Icon Sports)

the France stadium He is having his best first half of the season since 2015. With 8 wins, a draw and 5 losses, Parisians are in 2nd place.e Top 14 place. Stylish Pau (37-3) winners on Saturday 31 December remain on a 3-point win streak before hosting Gonzalo Quesada’s men. Castres 15 on behalf of this Saturday, January 7 (17.00).e championship day.

For exclusive Rugby newsGeneral manager of Stade Français Thomas Lombard he is sure that his club has started the season well.

News: How do you rate the first part of the season at Stade Français?

Thomas Lombard: The output and content of the team is satisfactory. We lose a few matches and stop for 80 minutes. This start of the season shows a very good mood of the players. They are attractive, do not let go and unite. Then the balance is good. We are second in Top 14. We received 8 bonuses: 5 attack and 3 defense. This group’s participation and new state of mind is highlighted through these statistics. This is an important difference compared to previous seasons, which were more erratic and we were unable to chain this kind of performance.

Aside from the mental state, how do you explain this start to the Paris season?

LT: We should also highlight the good things that are done on a daily basis. The squad has improved with the arrival of Paul Gustard as defense coach and James Kent in charge of skills. They bring their experience and new things are introduced. Faced with the demands of our championship, a successful conquest, a good defense and a good scorer allow us to exist and have very strong arguments. Today our conquest is great. With the arrival of Paul Gustar, we built a defense. This is the success of the system: making the player love the defense through the content offered on the pitch. Paul tries to express satisfaction and desire to participate in defense work. We traditionally favor offense over defense. Looking back at last season, the defenses of Castres, Montpellier and the teams at the top of the table were always effective.

“Morgan Parra was able to translate her motivation within the group, internally.”

Thomas LombardCEO of Stade Français

Today’s group also featured several recruits during a tough offseason…

LT: The new players have all come with the desire to work, to succeed and to do something with Stade Français. These aspects are felt in everyday work. Last year, we wondered if the players had asked themselves what they wanted to do with the Stade Français. Today we have more certainty. Then, not all of them have the same profile and experience. In general, when these elements are put in the right order, they work better and are easier for coaches.

On a more personal level, there were strong expectations for Morgan Parra. How do you analyze his start to the season?

LT: He brought qualities as a rugby player, a leader and a desire to win. He succeeded in translating his motivation within the group, internally. After that, a player does not change the team. But the gathering of arrivals allowed the other players to raise the level of participation and demands to be more decisive. There are those who talk and those who act. But they all point in the same direction. This state of mind creates a very favorable dynamic that gives the team this quality.

Do you have samples?

LT: Today our captain Paul Gabrillagues is one of them. He is a football player with a deep commitment to the club. He has a desire to do good. Sometimes he could be a little too lonely. There he feels empowered and encouraged. We should also mention the emergence of Romain Briatten, who has a more recent past at the club. It took on an extra dimension for its second season.

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Stade Francais CEO Thomas Lombard
Thomas Lombard is proud of his side’s display during the derby against Racing 92, but remains unclear ahead of the second leg. (©Icon Sports)

What does the last big win (10-48) in the Racing 92 derby mean?

LT: It’s a source of pride because we’ve got a head start on our last 5 consecutive defeats against Racing 92. They were heavy. We appreciated the reaction of the group and the participation of the players. By playing the Challenge Cup, we had the opportunity to prepare this trip to Racing 92 in more detail. Therefore, it is an achievement of the group that agreed to meet at this meeting. This match was marked. After that we are clear and know that there is a return match. The success of our season is not because we won this match at the Paris La Défense Arena.

“Our goal is to be in the top 6 and qualify for the finals. We are halfway there.”

Thomas LombardCEO of Stade Français

With this second place in the table, have Stade Français’ goals improved compared to the start of the season?

LT: We know where we come from. We suffered enough from the end of the last season and our ranking (11th, 20 points from the first 6, editor’s note). So we are quite realistic. Our goal is to be part of the top 6 teams and qualify for the Top 14 finals.

Got a Brennus shield quest in the back of your mind?

LT: You need to remain objective. We have a speaker. But these are still fragile. There are 12 games ahead. Then the players decide what to do, and that’s the most important thing. This season they decided to get involved, work hard and get better. They get there. But our goal is to be competitive in the top 6. We are halfway there.

In October 2019, you were appointed general manager of Stade Français. How do you rate your first 3 years?

LT: There was quite a long reconstruction work. We have also reshaped the workforce. Sometimes, we tried our hand at recruiting by doing tests that didn’t work out. As a result, we have decided to prioritize the selection of players who have a mental state today. You can take players of large breeds. It’s more complicated if they’re not there to help the club win, serve the team and be part of a collective project. We have few players called up to the national teams because rebuilding the team was the main principle. The players had to be there to create the spirit, the culture and the dynamic. We will see how we can integrate players with more international fame and experience, but everything will come in time…

Interview by Nicholas Dendry

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