The Ciel et Blanc host this Friday evening the neighbor and rival of Stade Français Paris in the play-off for a place in the semi-final of the Top 14 against La Rochelle. A meeting “without joker” underlines the manager of Ile-de-France, who aims further.
Is it a jump-off, is it a derby, or is it a jump-off and a derby?
Laurent Travers: It is prepared above all like a dam. The priority of priorities, our goal, is to go as far as possible. We wanted the qualification, we got it. We have a quarter-final to prepare. Everything around maybe spices up a little more. But what interests us is to do everything to set foot in Lille (where the semi-finals will be played on June 17 and 18, Editor’s note). The stake is sufficient in itself. We want to be champion. But we know that the one who loses Friday night is on vacation. There is no longer a joker. We’re live ammunition. One of the two teams will stop there. Our ambition is that it is the adversary, not us. But we like this kind of match. The players, the public, even you journalists (smile).
When you speak of additional pepper, do you think of Gaël Fickou’s transfer?
Gaël, we prefer to have him with us than against us. We know his talent, we know what he is capable of. But, on his own, he will not be able to do anything: the 22 other players must also do what is necessary for the team to perform well. What matters to me is not what Gaël Fickou will do but what Racing will do.
His arrival has allowed you to build an incredible three-quarter line, already nicknamed the Galactics …
It is always a real pleasure. After the leaf, it’s good, but the terrain is better. The truth always belongs to the field. We are aware of the qualities of Stade Français. Respect our opponent, respect rugby. They will be keen to show that they also have talent.
“It didn’t occur to me to ask Gaël (Fickou) for the Stade Français announcements”
Stade Français manager Gonzalo Quesada has revealed that he modified the main announcements fearing that Gaël Fickou has given them all to you. Is that the double agent of this derby?
But no ! I reassure Gonzalo. They can talk, no problem, we don’t know the announcements. First of all, knowing Gaël’s values, he never spoke to us about them. And, I tell you solemnly, it never occurred to me to ask him. Already, players are having trouble remembering all of our announcements. If in addition, we must think of theirs, frankly … By the time we think about it, they will have finished their combination.
Do you feel that you are under more pressure than Stade Français?
Of course. Stade Français is having a good season, they finish sixth and come out on the last day. Well done to them. But we are tied for second (78 points like La Rochelle), with 17 victories, that is to say as many as Toulouse and La Rochelle, we are first in the number of away victories … So of course the pressure is more raised on our shoulders, but it is up to us to assume it. After, a final phase match, everyone is under pressure: us, Bordeaux, Clermont and Stade Français, which certainly does not want to stop there. Next weekend, four teams will be under pressure. In the final too, you are under pressure, but that’s what we want. We are preparing to live this kind of matches. So let’s savor and enjoy.