The RCT, which has been surfing on an exceptional dynamic for three months, is coming forward as the big favorite for the final against Lyon, this Friday evening in Marseille.
The dynamics are exceptional. In the depths of the Top 14 ranking at the end of December, the Rugby Club Toulonnais has not stopped winning for three months. Nine victories in his last ten matches (only defeat in Biarritz, in the Challenge Cup, for a meeting without stake, Editor’s note). For a qualification for the final phase of the championship within reach of a last feat (winning on the synthetic turf of Racing 92 during the 26e and final day) and a place in the Challenge Cup final.
The Lyonnais, their opponents this Friday evening (9 p.m.) at the Stade Vélodrome, have been warned. Facing them are players who no longer doubt anything, who once again believe in their star, reinvigorated by the appointment of their new manager, ex-Clermontois Franck Azéma, called to their bedside after Patrice was sidelined Collazo. “We started our final stages in the 512th round because we started them for more than two months now“Laughs opener Anthony Belleau, unfortunately for him not selected for this final in favor of Louis Carbonel.
Same story on the side of the South African world champion Eben Etzebeth. “The last ten-twelve weeks have been like finals every time. Every weekend, if we didn’t win, we knew we could give up on the top six of the Top 14. So we’re not going to change anything“, warned the second-line.
“I don’t feel the fear of losing in my group. Everyone has a positive energy and it spreads. »
Where will Toulon stop? In the Challenge Cup final? Franck Azéma is not of this opinion. “We’ve been under the same regime for three months and we have no room for error. But I don’t feel the fear of losing in my group. Everyone has a positive energy and it spreads. The boys who join the group bring their energy and the boys who play little bring a lot to everyday life. There is good chemistry.»
And to add, Thursday, in a press conference on the eve of the final: “We don’t ask questions. We will stick to what we know how to do. We have recklessness but also convictions, commitment. We keep the same passion and the same casualness because we have confidence in what we produce. We are not going to change anything, we are going to stay ourselves, assured the guru of the RCT. We want to continue our adventure, take full advantage of it all. It’s nothing more than that…“Arrived during the season in the staff as a consultant and head of skills, Frédéric Michalak continues:”I have never seen a band with such mental strength!»
Having come a long way, and now two matches, two wins, from achieving the impossible, the RCT is the scarecrow of this end of the season. A close-knit group on a mission, the confidence gauge filled to the brim and the game finally on point. Add to that a found opener and scorer, Louis Carbonel, released by the departure of Collazo who had him in the crosshairs, and an infirmary with beds now available, after the returns of Cheslin Kolbe, Sergio Parisse, Eben Etzebeth or even the captain Charles Ollivon, catalyst of the renewal of the Var. “There’s a lot of excitemententrusts the third line of the XV of France. We mustn’t change anything: let’s keep the enthusiasm of the young, the assurance of the old. It’s what makes our wardrobe, it’s what makes us up.»
Last element that seems to play in favor of the Rade club, the place of the final. If around 5,000 Lyonnais supporters are expected, they will be almost 40,000 Toulonnais, who have come as neighbors (60 kilometers) to transform the Vélodrome stadium in Marseille into a cauldron. The LOU will have to have very large teeth to stop the RCT…