Raphaël Lagarde: “My position as a coach at SUA is made easier by my background as a player”

Quidam Hebdo: How do you feel about this new role, which is so recent?

Raphael Lagarde: It has nothing to do with it! It’s not always easy, but we get used to it. We do a lot of videos and analysis. There are many studies and surveys about training. The goal is to bring content that is interesting but not distracting. I am still well supported in the squad and have a few relays. Results make everything better. The team is in good form and the lads are doing well on and off the pitch. I see great matches and I’m enjoying the moment. We use it and surrender.

QH: What added value do you bring to your coaching role?

LR: It’s never easy when a new coach comes in from outside the club. All cards are folded. The latter may not know the players or the team’s strengths and weaknesses, including the game plan. Two months of summer training is sometimes not enough anyway, so imagine one coming for Christmas. I am not putting new things in place, but I am in the continuity of a project established at the beginning of the season. Although I am close to the guys given to my ex, I keep a common thread in my game plan. If the band is doing well right now, it’s because we’ve changed a lot in terms of graphics. In winter, we train later because we are less tired. These changes affect organisms. My arrival coincided with the change of seasonal working patterns, which made things easier for me.

QH: Does your knowledge of the field this season allow you to overcome the hurdle that Manny Edmonds has?

LR: Given my recent background on the field, I have a simpler position than a normal coach. I’m here to help and I still have this connection with the players where we can say things to each other without any problems. It’s not always easy for me, but the players have a lot of goodwill towards me and that gives me confidence.

HQ: Did anything surprise you about the extensive training work?

LR: Not really, but it is true that the workload is felt. We waste our free time in terms of video analysis and training preparation. No Monday or Sunday. You’re always thinking about the next deadline and keeping it in the back of your head. It’s interesting because as a player you don’t have the opportunity to make that many videos and I bring my field experience to it. It is a time-consuming task, but we are happy when the results pay off on the weekends.

HQ: Do you regret not being able to say goodbye on the field as a football player?

LR: Everyone asks me, but no. It’s a combat sport, so pick a bye match and end up losing 40 points and I’m not okay with that, how do we do that? Are we rescheduling goodbye next week? Honestly, I understand that point of view, but it would be selfish to think that way.

QH: What’s your vision for the back game you’re running now?

LR: I want them to touch the balloons and have fun. I’m a striker by nature, so I want to see them bring the ball to life. Do new things. We still have to respect the opponent and understand their game like the game against Biarritz last Friday. The limit between playing and overplaying is good and can prevent you from gaining points. Conditions will gradually improve and this being rugby, it will be favorable for attacks to break the opposing lines.

QH: What do you think about the forces that exist in your position?

LR: Thomas Vincent is in good shape and has all the ingredients for training in one game. Elton Jantjies is now mastering the game plan and announcements, so we’ll see him get into the rotation more and more quickly. Danré Gerber is a jack of all trades with his multiple abilities. Finally, Emile will come with Dayral Thomas. He has many qualities that have already been noticed by France’s youth teams and he showed them to us last December. He needs to grow, but he will get there with practice. With five matches remaining, this block will be useful to turn four around a bit.

QH: What about the challenge ahead of you against Grenoble on Friday?

LR: This is a scheme similar to Biarritz. This is a solid team that has put a lot of games behind it. He is not afraid to show himself, to insist on flanks and counter-attacks. He is completely uninhibited and plays all his balls at his own risk, but too much time passes. We have to be solid in defense and know how to use the balls we have.

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