Top 14: “A match under pressure”, concedes Castres Olympique player Mathieu Babillot, when receiving Bordeaux-Bègles this Saturday

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The captain and third line Mathieu Babillot confides that he and his group have understood the issues surrounding the reception of Bordeaux-Bègles this Saturday afternoon (5 p.m.). Impatient to do battle, the Castres group prepared this match with seriousness and calm.

The end of the European campaign was not as you expected. Is it a slack or a boost for you?

It’s difficult because we wanted to play this competition thoroughly. But when you lose the first two games, it’s complicated. Especially since we came across two great teams. But now it’s behind. What interests us is the future and therefore Bordeaux-Bègles. Monday, we analyzed what had not been in Exeter, then we switched to turn to this big reception in the championship which presents itself.

Do you consider the arrival of the UBB as a cutthroat meeting?

We know it’s a pressure game. However, when you are a high-level athlete, this kind of very intense games drive us. They are sometimes not the most beautiful to look at, but they are won over by desire and state of mind. It can also federate a group. We had a good week of training, it’s up to us to pass it on to the field now. We will also be in front of our public, it is a strength. We are obviously counting on them this weekend to push behind us. There will be ups and downs, as in all games, but in the downs our 16th man will carry us.

Do you think about ranking?

We are aware of it. But we don’t think about it all week long because it eats you up otherwise, and it can make you lose your senses. It’s the best way to screw you up actually. Above all, we are interested in our work.

Despite the current situation, the overall objective of the season, namely the top 6, has not been questioned or discussed?

Not at all, it didn’t come on the table. We ended the European campaign and we turned to our match against Bordeaux. It is the most important. The lens remains in place. If at the slightest difficulty, we question everything, it will become complicated. In those moments, we all have to be together, united, and work well in order to perform over the weekend.

As captain, on the eve of a match of this stake, do you change your speeches or attitudes towards the group?

On the contrary. At the beginning of the week, I tried not to talk too much, nor to be too present, because that can show a certain form of stress, of pressure. On the other hand, at the end of the week, I am more precise about my words, my requests. I go into detail. And then, the sauce should rise only at the time of the match. Before is too early.

In these times of looming duplicates, the Top 14 tends to get carried away from a ranking point of view. Isn’t this also the moment when Castres Olympique can tell itself that it has a card to play?

We can think that but I am torn. It’s a marathon championship, in addition marked by weeks of cuts or European Cups. Now some players will cross duplicates. This Top 14 is crazy and if we look at the other teams in the standings, we get lost. It’s a boat what I’m going to say, but it’s better to stay focused on us, then work well in good and bad times.

Pierre-Henry Broncan said that in your squad, the absence of a player, “it was a lot”. Do you feel a lack in the group?

Gaëtan (Barlot, retained with the XV of France) is an important element of Castres Olympique (Antoine Zeghdar is also absent because with the French team at VII in Australia, editor’s note). But there are other players to replace him, and the whole team has confidence in them.

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