Raphaël Lagarde, new coach of three-quarters of SU Agen: “Give the ball to the wingers”

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The Sporting opener has agreed to become a three-quarter coach following the departure of Manny Edmonds. On the other hand, he hangs up his crampons to devote himself fully to his new challenge.

You have agreed to Bernard Goutta’s proposal to undertake three-quarter training. But not to have the coach-player cap. Why this choice?

All the skill! It’s hard to train. So playing directing exercises at the same time, to be honest, that’s not possible… Then we are five opening halves with the arrival of Elton (Jantjies). My extra year was to mentor young people. There, being one more player and making them play even less is not the goal. So it wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s a new challenge for me. And if I want to be good, I can’t keep playing side by side.

The fact that you can’t make a final match doesn’t frustrate you?

Everyone asks me! But imagine, I play against Rouen and I suck, we take 40 points. How do we do it? Today we are still under construction. It’s too fragile to say “I’m having fun, I don’t care about the rest”. I have already devoted a lot of time to my training, we come to the stadium very early to work, we leave very late. This fatigue is hardly compatible with the effort required by the terrain.

You played an important role during the self-management period in 2020. But you also always indicated that you no longer wanted to coach after your career. So what motivated your choice for these six months?

Exactly these six months. After that it’s over, it’s clear. I have professional retraining projects that I’ve been putting off for a year. I got involved with other people. It was also my choice to quit rugby, to explore something else, to spend more time with my family. Coaching is a time-consuming activity. It is from morning to evening, every weekend you are on the road with the team. We are also very focused at home. It is very interesting, but the restrictions are very heavy. For these six months, nothing changes because I had to play.

But why accept at this time?

Because I fully understand the internal side. When a new coach arrives, he will have his ideas, his game plan that may differ from ours. We would have lost time. At best a month, at worst the whole end of the season. There may be a break. And, I repeat, the fact that we are five opening halves and I do not want our youngsters’ playing time to be shortened by this situation. Finally, it is personally an interesting challenge to take on.

When did you make your decision?

The day after Béziers, when Manny announced to us that he was quitting after Nevers. We have discussed this internal solution with Bernard. I already worked closely with Manny. I thought a week. Then, for the reasons I’ve explained, I decided to accept.

What would you like to add to the game of three quarters?

We had worked technically well this summer. After that we focused little by little on defense and offensive organization. But we have seen that on individual technique, with the onset of winter, we are below the required level. Also about the depth in the attack. So we’re going to have a big technical focus to give ourselves the means to hit the corridors, give balls to the wingers, stretch the defense. And don’t play one pass only to get stuck on midfield rucks.

We often had the impression that the full backs had difficulty breaking free from the tactical plan that had been introduced.

That is it. It takes the initiative. But to achieve this, you need to be technically advanced. And therefore have comfort in making choices. We are going to do reading games to have fun training and find that.

In two weeks you go from teammate to coach. This aspect should also be special to you.

We are a bit more cut off from the group. But also not quite. I had coffee with them this morning, grabbed some coins (laughs). I am a coach, not a manager. The team is Bernard who will make it. Manager is also the one who will “yell”, point out the shortcomings in the video, etc. Coach is different. You can have a nice relationship. You are there to move the group forward. Finally, I also have a deadline. I’m only here six months. If I had signed for three years, things would have been different. You can’t be that close anymore, you increase the level of demands.

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