Cognac-Tarbes on Sunday at 15:00 at the Stade des Sports in Cognac

On the sidelines of the match, excerpts from the interview of the co-chairs carried out by “La Charente Libre” are instructive and worth reflecting on to understand the mistakes that led to UCS’s current situation.

UCS is not dead

Counting last season, Cognac has 32 defeats for 8 wins in 40 days, and its relegation to National 2 is inevitable. The two co-presidents, Lilian Tessendier and Christophe Lacombe, created by the merger of Cognac and Saint-Jean-D’Angely, have acted accordingly and have already predicted their future in the Lower Division. If they don’t kick them anyway, they won’t jump ship at the end of the season and continue their adventure in the UCS lower echelon. “Relegation is not the death of the club” Hit the two co-chairs heartily, celebrating the loss but hoping for a reaction from their players during the Comeback matches. “We are at 99.9% in National 2, but we have the second part of the season ahead of us and we have to respect the championship, we have to respect our opponents. The players and staff must respect the club and the jersey and this second part of the season will be played to the fullest “, convinced Lilian Tessendier in front of the microphone of La Charente Libre and invited him to participate in a program about the future of the club with Christophe Lacombe.

A nightmare season

The two men, one of whom was president for fourteen years and the other for twenty-four years, admitted that they had never encountered such a situation. The two co-chairs also clarified the dismissal of Fabrice Landreau following a vote of no confidence by the players. With eight wins in thirty-two days last year, plus six straight defeats at the start of the season, the Manager was already on the hot seat. The players’ vote hastened a decision that only seemed possible after the heavy defeat against Blagnac. “We decided with a record of six wins out of thirty-two games we drew, as a result of player voting,” mentions Christophe Lacombe, who does not question the qualities of his former coach. True, Fabrice Landreau, limited by the allocated budget, had to part with many players and was attracted to a minimalist cast. A handicap in a Division whose budgets are increasingly involved in an arms race. “We understand that there are significant differences in budgets. We play with clubs that are two or three times more than our budget.Christophe Lacombe emphasizes. “It’s a high-level championship, but we have to act like good fathers. »

Recruitment errors

The co-chairs recognize a casting error at the level of recruiting older players to compensate for last year’s youngsters. “By taking more experienced players, we have a smaller group” Christophe Lacombe observes. Defeat to Blagnac “A match content team with nothing from our Championship”, was too much for Fabrice Landreau. In four games, the players’ self-control and the arrival of a new head coach did not change anything with seven new defeats. “We think recruitment was missed from the beginning” Observer Lilian Tessendier advances: “We had an envelope that other Pool teams could have. The coach makes his choice, we are not here to say whether we want this player or not. From the beginning there was a recruitment problem, the Group was poorly organized. » With four new defeats against Nice (13-28), Bourgoin (48-7), Suresnes against the run of play (18-24) and Albi, a finding that partly vindicated Yannick Vignette’s responsibility for the subsequent results. no game (76-15).

We decided not to send young people to be slaughtered

But worst of all, a first in professional rugby, is the package after Valence-Romans refused to postpone the match. Lilian Tessendier assumes: “I’ve never had a serious injury epidemic, especially on the front lines… We made a very difficult decision not to send young people into the slaughter.” We were criticized a lot, but if we had sent the kids and there was a serious injury, I think the criticism would have been different. This decision was perhaps open to criticism, but Christoph and I slept better than if we had to send the children. » Especially since UCS is still reeling from the coma of its iconic pillar, Hygonnet. Despite having six mainstays between injuries and Kakabadze’s departure during the season, the team was unable to field a full front line. Only Tougne, fresh from cervical surgery, was present. It was necessary to match the three Espoirs pillars with risks against one of the biggest National packages.

Come back in National 2

The new head coach’s mission is clear, to raise the bar in terms of results, content and behavior, respect the club and the form, and finish the season as well as possible. The co-chairmen themselves deal with the future of the club, which is currently registered in “National 2”. By now, they would have the support of most of their partners who should remain loyal in the coming season. The results should be better in the championship, which is more suited to the club’s capabilities, and should bring the crowd back to the stadium. “For many, level doesn’t matter, what matters is winning and scoring a lot of tries,” With twenty-four years of presidency behind him, Christophe Lacombe analyzes. A widely shared analysis by Lilian Tessendier. “When we talk to sponsors, they tell us: ‘National 2’ is the better, because the team will definitely have a level more suited to their capabilities. There will be more victories. It’s not about passion, it’s about sports results! At some point you have to realize that and play in a division where the crowd will have fun and support a little more. » Lilian Tessendier confirms sponsors will stick with UCS in National 2. “I’m surprised and pleasantly surprised to hear what many partners have told us: It’s a scary season, but we know you’ll be back… Next year it’s another championship, the team will inevitably get better results. We will accompany you, we will follow you. »

Recreate local identity

Lilian Tessendier also noted that times have changed at the Formation level. It used to be that “gym teachers” were rugby players or ex-local rugby players. Today, other school sports compete with rugby, which is known as a violent and dangerous sport. Youngsters who play rugby consider it professionally and join the biggest clubs. “Today we lose our best kids from U14” Lilian Tessendier explains. “Two years ago we had a very good U14 team and we lost five or six leaders who left for Angoulême and La Rochelle. Thirty years ago, these children remained in the area. » In the “National 2” Championship, which is less demanding than the National, UCS wants to change its recruitment philosophy. “It’s true, there’s been a lot of turnover for two seasons.” He knows Christophe Lacombe. “With this turnover, we’re not signing up long-term and we’re not fixing people. We do not want to continue in this dynamic. We want to be part of the area and over time. » Lilian Tessendier is on the same line. “Perhaps National 2 will give us more opportunities to recreate that identity… This rise in National has made us look for players for this level. “Milli 2” will perhaps give us a little breather. » The idea is also to get closer to Soyaux-Angoulême and have a common training policy so that the best young people go to SAXV and the others stay at UCS.

The institution must endure over time

The co-chairs confirmed that the union between Cognac and Saint-Jean-d’Angely was not in doubt. “It is our duty to ensure the continuity of the club and build a project” Lilian Tessendier assures. “In next year’s project, we are fully mobilized with Christoph. It is our duty to build the future. » Christophe Lacombe excels: “It is disrespectful to Liliana and me to believe that the club will disappear. Our role as presidents is to ensure the continuity of the club. » Continuity through the two institutions’ rugby schools and the integration of UCS Espoirs into the flag team in National 2. For Lilian Tessendier : “It was not possible to integrate Umid into the National team, but the transition with the first team in the “National 2” will be easier. » But neither president wants to position themselves if they don’t want to abandon ship in the middle of a storm. “We are at the service of the club” my Lilian Tessendier. “We will be here as long as we are useful. The day we are told: We can do better than you. We will leave room for others. » Christophe Lacombe adds: “If tomorrow someone comes up with a project that can revolutionize the club, we can even support this person. The most important thing is the Institution, which should stand with time. »

Jean Jacques Lasserre

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