Players, interim coaches and supporters of the French Stadium, red lantern of the Top 14 again in crisis, expect "a change of mind" after the departure of Heyneke Meyer, to ensure the maintenance and sustainability of the club.
"We will try to refocus with the players, the staff and also the supporters to meet the big challenge that awaits us, there is only that we can get there," said ex-winger Julien Arias, 36 years old and now co-coach alongside Laurent Sempéré.
The winger in the 77 trials in the league had ended his playing career last week before joining the coaching Meyer.
"The season will be long," he said. The method? "It takes a change of mind" players "and give them a smile," he said.
The fate of Heyneke Meyer, in office since June 2018, and his staff, disavowed by some of the players, was sealed by the heavy defeat against Racing (25-9) on Sunday that decided the owner and president of the stadium Hans-Peter Wild to part with it Tuesday.
It is now up to Laurent Sempere and Julien Arias to relaunch the biggest budget of the championship, which is nine points behind Brive, currently 12th and first non-relegable, after nine days.
"We know very well that this is a delicate period," said Laurent Sempéré, former hooker aged 34, who hung up the crampons at the end of last season.
- Unstable DNA -
"This is the story of a club and a group that is being played out," he said.
Sempere and Arias will start their mandate Friday night at Jean-Bouin with the reception of Brive in European Challenge. Waiting for the possible arrival of a new coach. However, their lack of experience does not seem to bother the players.
"There is a natural hierarchical relationship that is being made, these are my coaches now," says the second line Paul Gabrillagues.
"We are a solidarity group, we are all behind them 100%," adds the half scrum Arthur Coville.
"It's complicated at the moment, we will try to get up as soon as possible, there is a collective to find," said the world junior champion 2018.
Regarding the clash of the locker room at the end of the reign of Meyer, Gabrillagues prefers kick in touch: "I was not at the club, I was at the World Cup".
"Every meeting will be important in the situation where we are, we have toasted a lot of wilds since the beginning of the year," he admits.
If his club has won six league titles since returning to the elite in 1998 under the aegis of Max Guazzini, over the last ten years, he is also the one who has locked the most coaches, doing worse than the RC. Toulon, yet famous for its instability.
This one may be part of its DNA. Thus, in 2000, Stade Français won the Brennus two months after the dismissal of Georges Coste.
- Wild worries -
The players will, however, have to quickly show this new state of mind so much touted Wednesday to hope to reconnect with a public escheat, still scalded by the aborted merger with Racing two years ago.
On the side of the fans precisely, the return of the globalists (Fickou, Gabrillagues, Sanchez ...) is a reason for hope and we advocate the sacred union, for a time at least.
Among the fifty or so supporters who traveled Wednesday afternoon for training on the lawn of the stadium Jean-Bouin, few defended the maintenance of Meyer.
"But there have been too many upheavals in recent years," says Brice. "In 2017, we almost went down and last year we missed the roadblocks," he recalls.
The Pharaonic project of the Swiss owner Hans-Peter Wild is much criticized.
"He promised us that we would be Real Madrid rugby, he did not tell us we would be as rugby as the Real," squeaks Michel, another supporter. "For now it's a disaster given the resources committed," says senior executive retired.
Michel, a septuagenarian who came with his son, worries about the health of the Capri-Sun magnate: "He is a man who is almost 80 years old, he could disappear at any moment".
And to conclude: "If it goes wrong, we know when we go down but we do not know when we go back".
© 2019 AFP