Paris (AFP)

Forgotten about the 2019-20 season, finished in last place in the Top 14: the French Stadium wants to turn the page with its new coach, the Argentinian Gonzalo Quesada, responsible for bringing the Ile-de-France club back to the European Cup by 2022.

"We want to launch a new cycle. With a sports project based around Gonzalo Quesada," promised the general manager of the Parisian club, Thomas Lombard.

The objective set for the former coach of the Jaguares (the Argentinian franchise which competes in Super Rugby), back in a club he has already attended as a player (2004-2005) and as a coach (2013-2017), is clear: "To position ourselves sustainably in the first six French clubs in 2022, to find the largest + European Cup in 2022 and to shine again at the continental level".

This is no small feat for a team that finished the season in 14th and last place, with five small victories at the time of the freezing of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The guarantor of this ambitious project is therefore Quesada, who, coach, has brought to the capital's club his last two titles (2015 French Championship and 2017 Challenge Cup).

"I am delighted with the confidence I have been given in a very important moment for the club. It is a new cycle, I am very honored and I arrive with great enthusiasm," said Quesada.

- "With great humility" -

"I come with a lot of humility, I don't know how to do otherwise. For me, the opposite of ambition is mediocrity and I hate it. You can be ambitious by being humble," he said. he warned.

"Thirteen teams did better than us last season and they are not on vacation: they work, they recruit, they prepare for the next season ... We are going to have to work even more, even better, to give us the means and find a situation more in tune with this club. It will take a lot of work, a lot of fun, a lot of cohesion, "added the 46-year-old technician.

For that, the French Stadium has strengthened its supervision with, in particular, the arrivals of Christophe Moni (manager) and Benjamin Pollard (physical trainer, ex-Saracens), under the direction of Quesada therefore and Laurent Sempéré (in charge of the front end) ) and Julien Arias (in charge of the rear).

Recruitment department, the French Stadium also announced the signing of the left pillar Vassil Kakovin (Racing 92) and the third international line Argentinian Marcos Kremer (Jaguares).

"We have identified the players we really need, we have preferred quality over quantity," said Lombard, who said he was looking for a front and a back.

- Eight departures -

Eight players, however, left the club: Clément Daguin, Alexis Palisson, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Combrinck, Joketani Koroi, Thierry Futeu, Sione Anga'Aelangi and Hugh Pyle.

"This is a new story that begins. I am aware that it will never be obvious. There are many expectations, I feed on it, I do not take it as pressure," said Quesada.

"I'm not at all worried about the future of the French stadium," added the owner and president of the SFP, Hans-Peter Wild.

"For the first time, this club is run by men from rugby. They will introduce a culture to achieve stability and regularity. I am very confident," added the Swiss leader.

First step on September 4 with the kick-off of the Top 14 2020-21. Before the resumption of the championship, the French Stadium will continue its preparation with a training course in Nice (July 29-August 5) and two friendly matches against Brive, August 14 in Tulle and at the RCT, a week later in Toulon.

© 2020 AFP